PH medal haul not an excuse to cancel Senate probe vs SEA Games: Lacson

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2019 02:57 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2019 02:59 PM

Silver medalist Tikumporn Surintoria of Thailand, Gold medalist Carlos Yulo of the Philippines, and Bronze medalist Mat Asri Zul Bahrin of Malaysia during the medal ceremony for the artistic apparatus category of the SEA Games men’s artistic gymnastics on Dec. 3, 2019. Czar Dancel, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The success of Filipino athletes in the 30th Southeast Asian Games should not be an excuse to cancel a Senate probe on alleged irregularities in the mounting of the biennial regional meet, a senator said Thursday.

While the Philippines was hailed as the SEA Games 2019 overall champion with 387 medals, organizers have yet to explain alleged “excesses,” Lacson told reporters a day after the closing ceremonies of Southeast Asia’s largest sports tournament.

Several senators earlier slammed the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) for spending some P50 million to build a cauldron for the SEA Games.

“Kung ano man honors na binigay ng mga atleta, walang kinalaman organizing committee doon. So wag natin ipaghalo yung success ng mga atleta natin sa PHISGOC,” Lacson said.

“Wag natin ipikit mata natin dahil lang very very successful yung mga atleta ay kalimutan na natin 'yung mga excess kung meron,” he said.

Lacson noted that the transfer of funds from government agencies like the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission to a private entity like PHISGOC was illegal. 

“Malaki na question doon kasi government funds 'yun, hindi mo dapat ilagak sa private foundation,” he said.

PHISGOC chair and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said that he is willing to face congressional investigations after the Games.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier formed a 7-member panel that would conduct a fact-finding investigation on how SEA Games funds were spent.

The Ombudsman "will be forced to file a case against those officials involved in alleged corruption," if its investigation finds sufficient evidence, Martires had said.

ABS-CBN News had sought Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon for comment but he has yet to respond to messages, as of posting.