Due to concerns over future of SEA Games sports facilities, Senate recalls approval of P15.5B BCDA budget
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate recalled on Thursday the approval of the proposed P15.5 billion budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) after its ability to ensure that newly-constructed facilities will not go to waste after the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games was put into question.
The recall comes after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed concern over the supposed lack of financial plan to maintain the sports facilities to be used as venues for the SEA Games, particularly those in the New Clark City in Tarlac.
The Senate was deliberating on the proposed 2020 budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) when Drilon asked about the funding for the facilities that were either rehabilitated or constructed for the SEA Games, which the country will host on Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
PSC Chairman William Ramirez, through Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, said P9.5 billion—funded by the BCDA—was used for the construction of the new sports facilities.
Meanwhile, nearly P850 million was spent for the rehabilitation of several gymnasiums.
Go, as chairman of the Senate sports committee, was defending the budget of the PSC.
Drilon then inquired about what the government plans to do with the sports facilities after the Philippines hosts the SEA Games.
“I would like to focus on P9.5 billion, what will we do with these facilities after the games? Is there a plan?” Drilon said.
“(Is there a) financial plan after the facilities are finished and used so that the amount of money that we spend and the facilities that have been constructed can be maintained or at least there’s hope (or) faith as it is that we can recover our investment,” he further said.
Go told the Senate that the BCDA plans to bid out private developers who would maintain and operate the sports facilities as well as generate revenue for the government.
BCDA president and chief executive officer Vivencio Dizon was seated behind Go.
But Drilon was not convinced that anyone would want to rent out a stadium.
In response, Go said: “There’s many use, for concerts, athletics use (and) other commercial venues.”
“These are broad general statements and I think it is admitted that there is really no detailed plan as to how to generate funds,” Drilon, however, pointed out.
Go said that according to the Dizon, there are interested developers who are willing to continue to operate and maintain the sports facilities but said that the BCDA chief “cannot divulge this right now.”
But Drilon still expressed concern.
“I think this has not been thought out, because this will be a burden on the budget, I’m sorry…I cannot believe that we can generate enough funds to maintain this and what will happen because of lack of funds to maintain? These facilities will deteriorate overtime, so we have sunk in 9.5 billion for this activity,” he said.
The minority leader then cited instances wherein Olympic stadiums in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Athens in Greece were no longer maintained after they hosted international sports events.
“The BCDA could have learned from these experiences (and) come out with a plan in order (to ensure) that these facilities do not go to waste,” Drilon said.
At this point, Go raised the possibility of deliberating the budget of the BCDA again.
The Senate had earlier approved BCDA’s proposed budget as no questions were raised by senators.
“Senate Majority Leader (Juan Miguel Zubiri), bakit hinayaan mo ipasa yung budget ng BCDA kanina? So pwede ba nating bawiin muna yung pagpasa ng budget since we are talking about BCDA right now?” Go said.
(Senate Majority Leader (Juan Miguel Zubiri) why did you let us approve the BCDA budget earlier? Can we recall it since we are talking about BCDA right now?).
In response, Drilon expressed regret that questions concerning plans for the sports facilities for the SEA Games was not raised earlier.
He then moved to reconsider the approval of BCDA’s budget.
Drilon explained that the basis for the motion for reconsideration “are (the) the responses that we are getting today and the position of the chairman (Go) of this committee…is not in the position to answer all the questions as he is not the sponsor of the BCDA budget.”
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