Martires says fact-finding team now probing alleged SEA Games corruption
MANILA, Philippines – A fact-finding panel has been created to probe allegations of graft and corruption in the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said Monday.
At the sidelines of an anti-corruption summit, Martires said the seven-man panel is now in the process of investigating the issues hounding the biennial tilt, and may release their initial findings soon.
“We are actually into that, I have just created a panel to conduct fact-finding investigation, ‘pag may nakitang ebidensya (if we see incriminating evidence) then we will be forced to file a case against those officials na involved dito sa (in the) alleged corruption,” he said.
He also clarified that the affairs of all agencies involved in the hosting — including private organizations like the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) — will be looked upon.
“Well lahat ng agencies dahil iisa’ng pinanggalingan ng pera lang naman ‘yan, pati ‘yong mga agencies involved ‘di ba? (All agencies will be looked upon because all the funds came from the government)” Martires assured.
“Alam niyo naman ‘yong cases sa Sandiganbayan that the Ombudsman has filed, ‘pag may kasamang private individual in conspiracy with the government official or employee, we always file the case both against the government official and the private individual,” he added.
(You know, the cases in Sandiganbayan that the Ombudsman has filed, if there are private individuals involved in conspiracy with the government official or employee, we always file the case both against the government official and the private individual.)
Phisgoc is headed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano as chair of the private foundation which hosted and organized the holding of the SEA Games here.
This means, Martires said, Cayetano would be investigated even if President Rodrigo Duterte has previously said that he is sure that Cayetano — his former running mate — has no role in the mess.
“Yes of course, hindi pe-pwedeng hindi kasama ang Phisgoc (Phisgoc should be included),” he said, when asked if Cayetano would be included in the probe.
“Natural hindi tayo pwedeng maging selective sa ating investigation, we have to see kung ano ang participation ng bawat official ng Phisgoc, ng bawat official na involved in the Southeast Asian Games,” he added.
(Naturally, we cannot be selective in our investigation, we have to see the participation of all Phisgoc officials, and all officials involved in the Southeast Asian Games.)
Allegations of corruption came out after a Senate hearing revealed that the price of the cauldron in New Clark City exceeded P50 million. There were also reports that the sports kit for Filipino athletes were overpriced, but Cayetano and other lawmakers in the House deemed it “fake news”.
However, the corruption claims were amplified due to several mishaps in the country’s handling of arriving delegates — from the lack of vehicles to ferry athletes, billeting problems, lack of adequate food, and unfinished structures and sporting venues.
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