Duterte wants SEA Games committee out of picture due to 'corruption'
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to give the organizing responsibilities of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to the government, as he accused the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) of corruption.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement in a news briefing on Tuesday, July 16, when asked about Duterte's supposed plan as earlier reported by the Daily Tribune based on an interview with the Chief Executive.
Asked whether he had asked Duterte about the issue, Panelo said: "He said he doesn't want the foundation. Gusto niya gobyerno. Sabi niya maraming corruption doon sa private kaya nasisira 'yung diskarte ng mga leaders."
(President Duterte said he doesn't want the foundation. He wants the government to organize the SEA Games. He said that there was a lot of corruption in the private entity, so that's why the sports leaders are bickering.)
Panelo, however, clarified that Duterte believed that Taguig City-Pateros Repsentative Alan Cayetano, the PHISGOC chairman, was not involved in the corruption allegations.
"Definitely not. Not this Cayetano," said the Presidential spokesperson.
PHISGOC, being a private entity, allegedly engaged in questionable deals such as overpriced training uniforms and gear. (LOOK: Team PH launches official uniform for 2019 SEA Games)
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez is scheduled to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte regarding his final decision on the 2019 SEA Games.
When asked about assuming the organizing responsibilities of the 2019 SEA Games, Ramirez was mum on giving more details until after his meeting with the President.
"I cannot comment on [assuming the role of organizing the SEA Games] because I have not received any further instructions from the President," said Ramirez to reporters.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) – the main backer of the PSC – also confirmed that it had given a P200-million sponsorship package to PHISGOC following Duterte's previous executive order that instructed all government agencies to assist in the preparations of the biennial meet.
But with the recent developments, PAGCOR chairwoman Andrea Domingo questioned where the funds would be going.
"If ma-dissolve 'yung PHISGOC, nasaan 'yung funds (If PHISGOC is dissolved, where are the funds)?" said Domingo in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday.
The majority of the members of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) board were the first to accuse PHISGOC of entering into questionable deals as the sports merchandise prices quoted were "unreasonably higher."
Cayetano had debunked the claims, saying that the uniforms were custom-made, thus the difference in pricing. – with reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com