Duterte defends P55-M SEA Games cauldron
President Duterte has defended the controversial P55-million Southeast Asian (SEA) Games cauldron, dismissing claims that its creation was marred by corruption.
“There can never be corruption in that situation because you commissioned a National Artist,” the President said at a hastily-called press conference in Malacañang on Tuesday night.
Duterte said the structure to be used during the SEA Games hosted by the country later this month was a “product of the mind” of its creator, the late national artist for architecture, Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa.
“Mañosa was commissioned by the government to create the cauldron. It is a product of the mind. You cannot estimate how much you lost because it is the rendition of the mind of the creator,” the President said.
Duterte likened the commissioning of the cauldron to that of a painting, and having the artist place a price tag or worth on his creation.
During deliberations on the proposed budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority at the Senate on Monday, it was learned that Mañosa designed the cauldron for P4.4 million. Its foundation cost P13.4 million while the construction itself cost P32 million.
“If that’s his price, then he will say, then don’t buy it if you don’t like it. That’s my price, just like a painting. You commission a painting, a family painting … Those who painted that were paid, how much? We don’t know. A painting of President Duterte there, it was paid for, maybe P5 million?” he said.
“You cannot debate with the painter … Now, you create a symbolism of the athletic activity … There’s no extravagance there,” the President added.
The cauldron that will be used to carry the SEA Games flame was earlier questioned by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who considered it extravagant and unnecessary.
The money used for the cauldron could have been used to construct 50 classrooms worth P1 million each, Drilon said.
But the President shot back at the senator and asked why Drilon built a coliseum in his home province, a reference to the P450-million Iloilo Convention Center constructed in September 2015 for the Asia Pacific Economic Conference.
About P250 million of the coliseum’s construction cost was sourced from Drilon’s priority development assistance fund.
“How many kilometers could have been constructed with Drilon’s coliseum? Is it used every day? Well, if it is used and making money, fine,” the President said.
He added: “But how many kilometers of those public structures there in Iloilo [could have been constructed] if it was used to cement all the highways there?”
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