Role of private foundation in SEA Games questioned
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned why a private foundation was handling preparations for the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, particularly after President Duterte accused the foundation of corruption.
Drilon questioned the role of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), headed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, when the government was footing the bill and has in fact released P700 million in public funds for the event that starts later this month.
Cayetano had earlier denied the President’s accusation that there was an overpricing of sports supplies.
It will be the fourth time the country will be hosting the SEA Games after 1981, 1991 and 2005, and the budget for the event has ballooned from P700 million in 2005 to P7.5 billion this year.
The government has allotted P5 billion for the event while President Duterte approved a request for P1 billion more, in addition to the cost of new facilities at the New Clark City in Pampanga which cost the government P9.5 billion.
The funds are disbursed through the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and yet Phisgoc manages the preparation without even accounting for the sponsorship deals it has already forged.
The first “organizing committee” was formed by executive order for the SEA Games in 1991 but it was inexplicably incorporated into a private foundation late last year.
“As a matter of policy, why is there a need for a private foundation to manage the SEA Games?” Drilon asked PSC officials during a hearing on its 2020 budget.
“Can its functions not have been performed by the regular government agencies such as the PSC?” he added.
“Why did the public officials have to form a private foundation to perform tasks that they could have done as public officials? I don’t see anything special with (Phisgoc),” he added.
Gov’t execs in private entity
Drilon pointed out that while the group was technically a private entity, its officials were all government officials, including Cayetano as its chair and PSC head Butch Ramirez as one of the members.
But freshman Sen. Christopher Go, who defended the PSC’s annual budget request, said the PSC wants to ensure that the regional sports meet would be the “best” and to coordinate the efforts of public and private groups.
Besides, Go said the SEA Games charter actually allowed the establishment of private groups as organizational committees.
“They (the foundation officials) just wanted to mediate among the groups involved (in the SEA Games) preparations,” Go added.
To which Drilon replied, “There’s no question that it (forming a private group) is allowed. But is it necessary?”
“With all due respect, I could not accept that as a policy rationale for allowing a private foundation to participate when in fact the members of the foundation are government officials who can perform the same tasks,” he argued.
Further pressed by Drilon, PSC officials admitted through Go that Phisgoc had already received about P700 million from the government for its operations expenses.
Although Mr. Duterte issued an order including Phisgoc in SEA Games preparation in January, he later accused the foundation of corruption in July and was expected to remove the foundation from preparations.
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