Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned the cost of the cauldron that will bear the symbolic Southeast Asian Games flame to be lit during the opening ceremonies.
“P55 million is an extravagance that is so unnecessary and somebody has to answer for this,” Drilon told reporters.
“ ’Yung isang silid ng paaralan P1 million, ito 56 na silid-paaralan ang nabuo sana kung hindi ganito kalaki ang pangaabuso sa pondo ng taumbayan.”
(A classroom costs P1 million, so we could have built 56 classrooms if the money of the people was not abused.)
The cauldron’s design comes up to P4.4 million, while P32 million was allotted for its construction.
Sen. Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, defended the proposed budget put forward by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, saying the government prepared for the SEA Games to showcase its ability to host sports events.
The facilities will be made available for rent for income following the Games, according to Angara.
Last week, Drilon grilled Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the Senate’s sports committee chairman, over a similar issue.
Drilon said he was concerned that, without concrete post-Games plans for the facilities, they could turn into white elephants. Maintaining the structures will reportedly cost P150 million to P200 million a year.
“I think this has not been thought out, because this will be a burden on the budget with the maintenance cost,” Drilon said.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot believe we can generate enough funds even just to maintain this. And what will happen is that, because of a lack of funds to maintain, these facilities will deteriorate over time.”
Meanwhile, some sports officials are taking issue with the budget set aside for volunteers, ABS-CBN News has learned.
For items related to volunteers, the price tag comes up to nearly P40 million broken down as: “volunteer Games time allowances,” P15.8 million; “commemorative medals and supplies for volunteers,” P21.6 million; and “volunteer promotion and retention initiatives,” P1.8 million.
Based also on the same document obtained by ABS-CBN News breaking down the Games budget, items connected to the opening and closing ceremonies cost P1.6 billion, more than a quarter of the total P6-billion budget for the SEA Games.
Those are collectively labeled as “ceremonies and cultural events integrator” with a budget of P642 million and “venues creative, aesthetic and special events integrator” (P975.8 million).
That doesn’t include the fees for the entertainers and various talents expected to perform in the opening and closing, fees priced at P73.2 million. The Black Eyed Peas, which features US-raised Filipino Allan Pineda, or more popularly known as apl.de.ap, is expected to take home P26.5 million.
—With a report from Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.