Bayan: PH SEA Games hosting becoming ‘a national embarrassment’
MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration’s handling of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is a source of national embarrassment, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Tuesday, as it called for a special audit of the funds used to mount the regional biennial sports event.
Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. said there is enough basis for people to call out tilt organizers regarding the SEA Games snafus contrary to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters to just rally behind the government.
“The SEA Games hosting by the Duterte Government has become a national embarrassment. The people have every reason to voice out their disappointment over perceived incompetence and possible corruption in the preparations for the games,” Reyes explained in a statement.
“We borrowed billions but priorities seemed skewed. The complaints have been mounting and we haven’t even formally opened the games,” he added.
According to Reyes, the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), as well as other government agencies involved, should be subjected to a special audit amid escalating corruption allegations.
“The SEA Games are now tainted with allegations of corruption over overpriced and unfinished structures and questionable agreements with contractors. There should be a special audit of all agencies and officials involved in the hosting,” he said.
“There should be clear point accountability for the gross failures of the hosting committee. The contracts for the construction of facilities, including those that did not undergo bidding, should be carefully examined,” he noted.
Since the arrival of national teams from other Southeast Asian countries, Phisgoc and its chair, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, have drawn flak over transportation woes, delays in hotel check-in, and lack of ample food as reported by some of the participating athletes on social media.
There were also reports of unfinished venues for the games, including the press briefing room and comfort rooms at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex; absence of scoreboard during the first football game; mixed-up and unorganized IDs for members of the press; and the serving of rice, egg, and kikiam for the athlete’s breakfast.
Criticisms on the Philippines’ handling of the SEA Games abound on social media that even the hashtag #SEAGames2019fail has been coined and becoming a top trending topic among Twitter users in the Philippines. Several foreign news outfits have also reported on the situation and cited alleged several hazards for foreign athletes.
Phisgoc officials – even Malacañang – have already issued their apology over the 2019 SEA Games mishaps.
“We boast of being world-class hosts yet our guests are complaining about the shabby treatment they are receiving,” Reyes said. “Our own athletes could not feel the home-court advantage as the funding and support for our own are sorely lacking.”
“We continue to support our athletes even as we hold the Duterte Government liable for the hosting fiasco. Protests against corruption and state neglect are indeed justified,” he added.
Edited by KGA
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