Around 9,000 volunteers ready for SEA Games days before launch

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2019 04:19 AM | Updated as of Nov 26 2019 10:01 AM

MANILA - Around 9,000 volunteers, mostly Filipinos, will be ready for the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in the country, Volunteer Program official and ex-cager Chris Tiu assured on Friday, a week before the sports event begins on November 30.

Tiu said security and background checks are still ongoing for the estimated remaining 10 percent of the volunteers -- a prerequisite before one gets accredited to assist in the games.

“We work with our security task force to screen our volunteers to make sure they have no derogatory history with other agencies. We do our due diligence also to ensure the safety of our volunteers, which I admit is quite a challenge,” Tiu told ABS-CBN News.

The special security task force includes the Philippine National Police (PN) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

“We are almost complete. 90% complete with the records checks, security checks. Getting there,” Tiu said.

He said he expects the background check on volunteers to be completed by next week before the games start.

But Tiu isn’t worried. Close to 8,000 volunteers have already passed the general training, which is done simultaneously with the background check.

“Not everybody is deployed in Day 1. There might be a time that names would come in just before the games. So those volunteers could be deployed towards the end of the games pa. It’s not like we need 100 percent on Day 1,” he explained.

Apart from the 9,000 volunteers, which hits the Volunteer Program’s target, over 1,000 more are on standby in case of “fallouts”.

“We’ve hit our targets, but then again, we also have to have the foresight and assume that there might be fallouts. That’s the nature of volunteerism. Nine thousand is a huge number and there will be individuals that might have their own concerns or situations that will not allow them to participate,” Tiu said, admitting there are volunteers who backed out due to issues with their schedule.

He added: “They’re trained na. Everybody has to go through a general training. We also have a shortened training that is already being set up for these backup volunteers. We’ve simplified the module so that we can do it in a few hours. And that they can be deployed already to their respective assignments.”

The training for volunteers has two phases. One focuses on quality customer service, information about the SEA Games, and security measures, while the other is specific to the functional area where a volunteer has been assigned.

Accredited volunteers will get uniforms (collared shirts, pants, socks, a bag, ID), and free food while on duty, he said.

“We’ll be feeding them. It’s the same, what we will be eating, what our COO will be eating, what Speaker Alan will be eating if he comes will be the same as our volunteers. But of course, each venue may have different food,” Tiu said.

Point-to-point transportation will also be provided for the volunteers.

“We want to assist them in getting to the venues as easy as possible. Could be in malls, could be in schools, could be the most convenient location in that area. And also note that the deployment is based on the area where they are based,” Tiu said.

Volunteers have committed to render at least four days of service for the SEA Games.

“We never impose that you should work two weeks, you should work one week. We understand that this is a volunteer basis. It’s up to them how much time they can give. But the reason we’re putting a 4-day minimum is operational issue. There should be continuity also,” Tiu said.

He also stressed the crucial role of volunteers in the upcoming games, “It’s a two-fold role. They have actual responsibilities during the games, but they also have an influencer or ambassador role as part of the SEA Games family.”

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2019 SEA Games