Senate recalls approval of BCDA’s P15.5-billion budget

Aika Rey
Senate recalls approval of BCDA’s P15.5-billion budget
The sponsor of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority budget will be made to explain how the New Clark City Sports Complex won't turn into a white elephant after the SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Thursday, November 14, recalled the approval of the proposed P15.5-billion Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) budget for 2020, hours after it was passed in the plenary.

The unusual move came after Senator Bong Go, the sponsor of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), suggested that the budget of the BCDA be recalled, so that questions related to the New Clark City Sports Complex be answered by its sponsor instead, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara.

The New Clark City Sports Complex is a P5-billion project under the BCDA.

“BCDA ang pinag-uusapan natin ngayon. Majority Leader, bakit hinayaan mo maipasa ang budget ng BCDA kanina? Puwede ba natin bawiin muna ang pagpasa ng budget since we are talking about BCDA budget?” Go said.

(We’re already talking about the BCDA now. Majority Leader, why did you allow the budget of the BCDA be passed earlier today? Can we recall the approval of the budget since we are talking about the BCDA budget now?)

Go’s suggestion came after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon grilled the PSC over plans for the new facilities once the Southeast Asian Games are over, particularly the multibillion New Clark City Sports Complex.

BCDA’s proposed P15.5-billion budget was earlier approved by the plenary to be endorsed for second reading, as there were no senators who expressed intention to interpellate.

Drilon said that he didn’t know that these questions were supposed to be answered by the BCDA instead of the PSC, even though it was related to the upcoming SEA Games.

“Mr President, as suggested by Senator Go, these are matters that can be better answered by the sponsor of the BCDA. Obviously the [PSC] sponsor (Go) cannot answer adequately the capital outlay expended for these games,” Drilon said.

“Consistent with the proposal of Senator Bong Go, may we request that the budget of the BCDA be recalled in discussion for Monday?” Drilon added.

The motion was later approved by the plenary, as Angara was no longer in the session hall. The Senate will resume with interpellations on the BCDA budget on Monday, November 18.

Plans after the SEA Games

The question that triggered the recalling of the BCDA budget was about the plans of the agency to reuse the new facilities – which cost a total of P9.5 billion – for the SEA Games.

Drilon explained that several facilities overseas, such as the Olympic stadiums at Rio de Janeiro and Athens, became “Monuments of Non-use” as these were no longer maintained after the Olympic meet.

“What will we do with these facilites after the games? These are assets which are in effect just in our books without any income being earned. So is there a plan on what to do with these after?” Drilon asked.

Go said the government will be looking for lessees for local and international tournaments to draw additional revenue for the PSC.

For the Clark complex, Go said that it is eyed to be used by the Philippine High School for Sports, which has yet to be created. 

It was Senate Minority Leader Drilon who introduced the motion before the plenary.

Responding to questions, Go said the New Clark City Sports Complex would incur maintainance costs of about P150 million to P200 million a year, as computed by the Asian Development Bank.

Given the high costs and lack of assurances that there would be lessees at the venues, Drilon said that the facilities might deteroriate, wasting government funds spent for it.

“This is not the fault of the sponsor, but it would appear to me that we just spent the money that is available. Bahala na si Batman pagkatapos (We leave to chance what happens after),” Drilon said. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.