MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the price of the Southeast Asian Games cauldron is justified because it is a work of art.
Duterte also doubts if there was corruption involved in the purchase of the cauldron.
"There can never be corruption in that situation because you commissioned a national artist," he told reporters.
"Si Mañosa was commissioned by the government to create 'yung nakita mo 'yung kaldero ngayon. It is the product of the mind. You cannot estimate na lugi ka because it is the rendition of the mind of the creator," Duterte added.
He also said the government cannot do anything about the price if it was what the artist asked for.
"Kung 'yan ang singil niya, eh di sabihin niya, eh di 'wag mong bilhin kung ayaw mo. 'Yan ang presyo ko," Duterte said.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier justified the price of the cauldron, after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described it as an “unnecessary extravagance.”
The Philippines’ SEA Games cauldron is “cheaper” than Singapore’s P62-million piece, said Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).
“Ang cauldron ay isang monumento. Isa itong simbolo. Isa itong work of art. Ito ay isang requirement sa lahat ng games because it symbolizes the games’ competition, spirit,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Senate budget hearings.
Designed by National Artist for Architecture Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, the cauldron was not just a large caserole, but a towering structure that would keep the SEA Games’ symbolic flame burning for 11 days.
The cauldron itself amounts to P7 million, but a P18-million mechanism is required to keep the flame lit for about 264 straight hours, Cayetano added.
Drilon earlier said about 56 classrooms could have been constructed with the fund, instead of building a multi-million cauldron that will only be used once to mark the opening of the international sporting event in the Philippines later this month.
Drilon said the cauldron was worth P55 million.
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