MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee chaired by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano received a “special recognition” from an award-giving body that Phisgoc itself had “endorsed” and “supported.”
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, December 4, Cayetano said he received from the Sports Industry Awards (SPIA) Asia the recognition as “best SEAG organizer” during a ceremony held at the Grand Hyatt Manila on Tuesday, December 3.
During the awarding ceremony, SPIA chief executive Eric Gottschalk said they were recognizing Phisgoc for the “best Southeast Asian Games so far, ever.”
“These are by far the best Southeast Asian Games so far, ever. And that has been awarded by SPIA Asia to Phisgoc. So congratulations,” Gottschalk said before handing Cayetano his trophy.
SPIA Asia’s website says it is “endorsed” and “supported” by its own awardee, Phisgoc.
The Awards page under SPIA Asia’s website said it is “endorsed” by both the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines as well as SPIA Asia awardee Phisgoc, the non-stock, non-profit corporation tasked to oversee the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th SEA Games. (READ: What do we know about SEA Games 2019’s Phisgoc?)
The Frequently Asked Questions page of SPIA Asia also says it is “supported” by Phisgoc.
“Asia’s Sports Industry Awards & Conference is endorsed and supported by various government entities. This year, the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines endorses and supports SPIA ASIA. Further, SPIA ASIA is likewise supported by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee,” reads SPIA Asia’s website.
A fact-check article published by Esquire mid-Thursday morning noted that there was no “Best SEA Games Organizer” award under SPIA’s list.
But as of 7 pm on Thursday, SPIA Asia’s Awards page now lists the “SPIA Excellence Award” for Phisgoc under the Special Recognitions by SPIA Asia category.
Phisgoc’s defense: Cayetano, however, still denies that SPIA Asia has any ties with Phisgoc.
“Nakakalungkot lang na ’yon nga, maraming fake news na iniikot na sinasabing hindi totoo ’yong award or kaya gobyerno ng Pilipinas ang SPIA or inisposoran namin. These are all not true. Ako mismo nagulat ako dito sa award na ’to,” he said in a chance interview on Thursday.
(It’s saddening how there are a lot of fake news saying the award isn’t true or SPIA is part of the government of the Philippines or that we had sponsored it. These are all not true. Even I was surprised by this award.)
He also defended the “special recognition” they received from the award-giving body that Phisgoc itself is endorsing.
“First of all, ‘yong special award na ‘binigay sa atin ng Sports [Industry] Asia, [which] is one of the most prestigious in Asia pagdating sa sports industry, it’s not for me, not for the organizers, not even for President Duterte. Para sa lahat ‘to kasi for hosting, kasama diyan ‘yong airport, ‘yong hotel, kasama diyan ‘yong ushers, kasama diyan ‘yong security, ‘di ba?” Cayetano said.
(First of all, the special award given to us by Sports Industry Asia, which is one of the most prestigious in Asia when it comes to the sports industry, it’s not for me, not for the organizers, not even for President Duterte. It’s for all of us because the hosting involves the airport, the hotels, the ushers, and the security, right?)
“So it’s a good signal to the world that we’re ready to host big international events,” added the Phisgoc chair and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Cayetano’s SEA Games controversies: Cayetano, as Phisgoc chief, already drew flak after logistical blunders and alleged budget anomalies hounded the Philippines’ hosting of the SEA Games.
A Rappler in-depth story showed the money trail for at least P6 billion worth of SEA Games funds trailed Cayetano during his days as Department of Foreign Affairs secretary to the Philippine Sports Commission, which signed an agreement that mandates it to disburse funds to Phisgoc.