When my father found out that I had started working as a consultant for government officials and politicians 15 years ago, his only advice for me was, “Believe what people do, not what they say.”
I remembered his advise now as I was reading story after story of what recently happened in our country’s preparations for the 30th SEA Games which will be held in the Philippines from November 30 to December 11 later this year.
Malacanang Palace recently denied that allegations of corruption could be behind President Duterte’s statement construed by many to mean the removal of the Philippine Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) Foundation from involvement with the 30th SEA Games.
And yet, it appears that Phisgoc is already on its way out.
It bears emphasizing that this will be the largest international event in our country this year and it has the potential to further boost the Duterte administration’s reputation across the region.
In a way, it will be a premiere of sorts for Manila, Clark, Subic, and a fourth cluster consisting of venues not grouped with the first three hubs.
Moreover, this edition is most notable for including e-sports and obstacle course for the first time as well as having the highest number of sports in the history of the games, at 57.
Brunei Darussalam was supposed to host the 30th SEA Games but pulled out in 2015 citing financial and logistical reasons.
As the first day of the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines draws near, the world’s attention will increasingly focus on the Duterte administration’s every move. It will be a grand occasion for the administration to showcase all of its accomplishments within its first three years.
If things pan out well, the 30th SEA Games may catapult the Philippines and allow it to make new breakthroughs in various aspects of the nation’s life.
Or… It could turnout to be the biggest cluster fuck up in the country’s history if the President allows even the smallest possibility of anything going wrong.
As for things that could go awry, word of a worsening rift between the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation Inc. began making the rounds.
The POC and the Phisgoc have each claimed to be the legitimate organizer the SEA Games.
Atty. Clint Jesus Aranas, executive board member of the POC, asserted that the POC is the rightful organizer of the Games and should be in charge of managing it.
“Dapat the management and the conduct of the Games should be left with POC because we are the franchise holder of the SEA Games. Bilang franchise holder, may pananagutan kami sa nag-issue ng franchise, (which is) the International Olympic Committee,”
However, President Duterte signed in January this year, Memorandum Circular No. 56, directing all government offices to extend their support for the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc).
Phisgoc is Chaired by former Foreign Affairs Secretary now Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano, who was recently announced by Duterte as his choice for House Speaker.
In a news report, it is said that although Cayetano is not an incorporator of the PHISGOC Foundation, it is populated by members of his inner circle. The news article identified them as Ramon Suzara, Donaldo Caringal, Dexter Estacio and Monica Anne Mitra. Also mentioned were recently-resigned POC president Ricky Vargas, POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, POC communications director Ed Picson and former POC chairman Tom Carrasco.
The news article says that PHISGOC Foundation took over the functions of the POC and made some crucial decisions on its own, like the creation of the Games’ official logo, theme, mascot and other marketing collaterals without the approval of the POC board.
Likewise, the article says it also entered into contracts and is largely blamed for the very slow buildup for the Games as questions in transportation, accommodation, sponsorship, marketing campaign, venues, volunteer program, parade uniform and technical handbook have recently surfaced.
It bears noting that all these are EXTREMELY LUCRATIVE UNDERTAKINGS.
Polo shirts that cost P5,150 each and socks priced at P2,700 per pair.
These were the prices of sportswear that the private organization chaired by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano wanted the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to sponsor for the Filipino athletes who will take part in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) reportedly asked the PSC to shell out P59.2 million for the apparel made by foreign sportswear brand Asics, according to a document obtained by Politiko.
In a letter dated April 25, 2019, PHISGOC asked PSC chairman William Ramirez to shoulder the cost of purchasing 1,150 sets of sportswear from Asics since the brand will only foot the bill for 1,350 sets.
Each set cost P41,160.
Ramon “Tats” Suzara, the chief executive officer of PHISGOC, said in a statement that both the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) are properly represented in the organizational committee and take part in all decisions of the body.
He also made it clear that the P5-billion budget approved by the Congress for the SEA Games this year, as well as the P1-billion augmentation fund approved by the President, are all lodged with the PSC.
Not a single centavo of government funds is handled by the PHISGOC, Suzara stressed.
“All government funds are duly accounted for, and are being disbursed in accordance with government procurement procedures performed either by the PSC or the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as proposed by PHISGOC chairman, Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano, to ensure that every peso allotted for the SEA Games are wisely and properly spent,” said Suzara.
Recently, in a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo was quoted as saying, “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.” (Translation: He wants the government (on top of the 2019 SEA Games.) He said that there is a lot of corruption with private groups, they could muddle with the decisions of our leaders.)
A political observer whom I regularly talk with surmised, “Perhaps this is President Duterte trying to rein in Cayetano who in some circles is called Cawatano (thief).”
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