‘Puro malisya:’ Cayetano fumes at Hontiveros over call to probe funds for SEAG facilities
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Pia Cayetano on Tuesday fumed at Senator Risa Hontiveros after the latter flagged possible irregularities in the P9.5-billion funding used to construct sports facilities for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
After Hontiveros’ privilege speech, which also called for a “full-scale” investigation on the matter, Cayetano claimed that her colleague’s allegations were a “slap in the face” of Filipino athletes.
“I am embarrassed that we choose to make a political issue out of a world-class facility. Kaya tuloy wala nang mag-aabalang magpatayo ng matitino at kahanga-hangang infrastructure dito sa Pilipinas dahil magpatayo ka lang ng maganda e sasabihin na sayo na may kalokohan ka. So paano? Puro bulok na lang tayo? Para walang pumansin, gano’n?” said Cayetano, who admitted not hearing most of Hontiveros’ speech.
(I am embarrassed that we choose to make a political issue out of a world-class facility. This could be the reason why no one bothers to create decent or remarkable infrastructure here in the Philippines because it can be tainted with irregularities. So what will we do now? Do we settle with subpar facilities? So that it will not be subject to controversy?)
“Tapos ngayon, ang kaisa-isang nagawa natin for them (athletes), binibigyan pa natin ng malisya. Kaya yan, yan ang mangyayari sa bansa natin. Puro malisya tayo, puro paghuhusga,” she added.
(And then now, the only thing we did for them, we put malice. That is what will happen to our country, it’s all malice, judgment.)
Cayetano argued that the SEA Games would not have been “as successful as it was” if not for the sports facilities at the New Clark City in Tarlac, which was the subject of Hontiveros’ privilege speech.
“May I ask her honor if she has seen the place? Because the national track and field team, when they visited before the Southeast Asian Games commenced, they went there for the first time, does her honor know that they cried when they saw the stadium?” Cayetano asked Hontiveros.
“They cried when they had the opportunity to run on the turf? Bakit? Kasi dun sila nagpa-practice sa napakabulok na stadium. Ganun ang kalagayan, that’s how we treat our athletes,” she added.
(They cried when they had the opportunity to run on the turf? Why? Because their usual practice spot is already falling apart. That’s the state of our sports facilities, that’s how we treat our athletes.)
What also piqued Cayetano was Hontiveros raising the possibility of the New Clark City’s sports facilities becoming “a gigantic white elephant in Central Luzon.”
“Paano magiging white elephant? Do you even know what are the conditions of our sports facilities para sabihin mong yung world-class na yun magiging white elephant?” Cayetano asked.
(How can that be a white elephant? Do you even know the conditions of our sports facilities for you to say that it would become a white elephant in the future?)
“Hindi niyo ba alam na pinasa natin ang National Academy of Sports and doon magaaral and doon magte-training ang mga bata natin, mga future Manny Pacquiao natin, paano naging white elephant?” she added.
(We passed a law establishing the National Academy of Sports, the athletes will study and train there, the country’s future Manny Pacquiao, how can that become a white elephant?)
In response, Hontiveros pointed out that she is not questioning the quality of the sports facilities or the need to build such infrastructure but stressed that it “behooves” the Senate to look into concerns earlier raised by the Commission on Audit (COA) itself.
“If the good colleague had caught most of my privilege speech it probably would not have caused the good gentlelady as much distress…Maganda naman talaga yung mga facilities [The facilities really are great], nobody’s arguing against that,’ Hontiveros said.
“Ang aking mga tanong na ni-raise ay walang pagbabawas sa pagbibigay halaga natin sa ating mga atleta mula pambansa hanggang lokal,” she added.
(The questions I raised earlier does not diminish our appreciation of our national or local athletes.)
Further, Hontiveros said her privilege speech is intended to hold people accountable.
“We take the floor to hold people to account, no more, no less,” the opposition senator said.
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