Sotto won’t block probe of SEAG mess
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would not be a hindrance to any Senate investigation into the spending of the funds for the Philippine hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) but while the event was ongoing, the country should focus on supporting its athletes.
There should be an accounting after the games have concluded, Sotto said.
While the games are ongoing, however, people should concentrate on helping the country’s athletes win and should realize that the latter would be affected by negative reports about the games, said Sotto, a former member of the national bowling team.
Accounting of expenses
“Perhaps there should be an accounting of the expenses made and it should not have anything to do with the games. What’s important is that it should be a separate matter. [The games] should be a different issue from the criticism of the lighting, the cauldron, the budget,” he told reporters.
The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, a private foundation that received government funds, and the government agencies involved in the SEA Games would be subject to scrutiny by the Commission on Audit, Sotto said.
The Senate could also conduct an inquiry or hearing on these groups’ preparations and fund use, and he would not object to one, he said.
“If ever, the committee on finance of the Senate or the committee on finance of the House would like to look into this, it’s just proper and it can be done even before the 2021 budget,” Sotto said.
“The important thing is there should be accountability, and there will be accountability, I’m very confident it is so,” he added.
The preparations cost a lot of money, he pointed out, though he himself thinks they had been done well.
“I’m very satisfied even with the preparations. Everything was in order, everything was thought of even if there was dialogue that the budget was delayed. Still, the preparations were enough for the country to be happy about the results,” Sotto said.
The P50-million expense for the cauldron, the financial viability of the P9.5-billion athletic facilities in New Clark City, and the creation of a private foundation for the SEA Games had been questioned in the Senate.
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