Athletes not an excuse to ditch issues hounding SEA Games project deals – Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino athletes should not be used as an excuse to sweep the issue of possible irregularities in the funding used to construct 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games venues under the rug, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Monday.
“Calling for an investigation into possible irregularities surrounding the construction of the sport facilities used in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games tarnishes neither the achievements of our athletes nor the honor they have earned for the country,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“They should not be used as an excuse to sweep the issue under a rug. After all, it was our athletes who won the medals, and not the persons responsible for a project flagged as anomalous by the Commission on Audit (COA),” she added.
Hontiveros issued this statement after at least two of her colleagues in the Senate thumbed down her call for a “full-scale” probe into the joint venture agreement (JVA) entered into by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) with Malaysian developer MTD Capital Berhad for the construction of sports facilities at New Clark City.
According to Hontiveros, her call for an investigation is about holding people accountable and “not politics.”
“This is [BCDA] and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) answering the questions raised by the COA vis-a-vis the construction of the sports facilities used in connection with the SEA Games,” she said.
The chairs of the Senate committee which the investigation was referred to “should not be preempted,” Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros’ resolution calling for the investigation was referred to the Senate Blue Ribbon and Sports committees, chaired by Senators Richard Gordon and Christopher “Bong” Go, respectively.
“It should be left to their sound judgment as to when and how an inquiry should be conducted,” she said.
“The Senate should not be prevented from doing its job,” she added.
While certain aspects of the issue are already pending before the Office of the Ombudsman, the senator said joint ventures involving the government “remain a legal gray area governed by multiple, and possibly conflicting, sets of rules.”
“There is thus a need for Congress to step in and provide some clarity to avoid the exact incident red-flagged by the COA; of projects being dressed up as [joint ventures] to side-step public bidding requirements,” she added.
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