Panelo denies Robredo firing an attempt to distract from SEA Games mess

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Panelo denies Robredo firing an attempt to distract from SEA Games mess

Toto Lozano

Senator Risa Hontiveros calls it 'laughable' that Vice President Leni Robredo got fired from her anti-drug post first, instead of officials who are behind the 'embarrassing handling of the SEA Games'

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang denied on Sunday, November 24, that the timing of the removal of Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) was timed to divert from issues surrounding the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

In a briefing in Busan, where President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained that logistics issues usually happen in major events like the SEA Games.

“You know, you cannot discount any delays, incidents of non-transport or late checking-in, given the fact that there are so many athletes coming to the Philippines,” Panelo said. “Natural lang iyon (It’s only natural).”

He later said these issues “could not be avoided” and “are never intentional.”

Panelo also reiterated that Malacañang and the SEA Games organizers have already apologized over the inconvenience and confusion, like problems with athletes’ accommodations as well as delays in the construction and renovation of game venues.

He then told the organizers to be “creative” in addressing these problems. “I am sure they will do better for the succeeding arrivals of the other countries, delegates, and athletes…. You will learn from your mistakes.”

In a statement on Sunday, Senator Risa Hontiveros said it appears that Robredo’s firing was meant to direct attention away from issues that have surfaced leading up to the SEA Games, which will be held from November 30 to December 11.

“It is laughable that it is Vice President Robredo who got fired first over the public officials responsible for the anomalies and incompetence which now hound our hosting of the Southeast Asian Games left and right,” Hontiveros said.

“I won’t be surprised if this is yet another attempt to draw public attention away from the widespread anomalies and the incompetent and embarrassing handling of the SEA Games. We must not be deceived.” –


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