Drilon questions P50-M SEA Games cauldron: We could've built 50 classrooms

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned the construction of a giant cauldron that will be used in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

This, after Senate it was found during deliberations on the proposed budget for the Bases Conversion and Development Authority that construction of the SEA Games cauldron costs around P50 million.

Drilon lamented that the amount for the construction could have been used for building of 50 classrooms.

"Is it valid, is it just that we do away with 50 classrooms to build a P50-million kaldero (pot) that we’ll use only once?" Drilon asked.

"I am not even talking about overpricing. I am talking about the propriety of doing away with 50 classrooms in order to put up a P50-million kaldero," he added.

The three-meter wide and 50-meter high cauldron would be placed at the entrance of the athletic stadium in New Clark City in Tarlac for the torch lighting ceremony for the SEA Games.

The Philippines is hosting the games from November 30 to December 11.

The BCDA clarified that the cauldron is being built by the Philippine Sports Commission.

BCDA president Vivencio Dizon through Sen. Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, explained that the SEA Games cauldron was constructed as a symbol of the country during the biennial event hosting of the Philippines.

In defending the cost for the cauldron, Angara pointed out that it was Congress that appropriated the money for these projects.

"Of course, beforehand, we did not know how the money would be distributed," the senator added.

Drilon said it is for that reason that he raised the question on the validity of building the “oversized” cauldron at the cost of 50 classrooms.

Angara, meanwhile, furthered that the representation of a country's creative designers and performers for the international sports event was also done by other southeast Asian countries.

“I think what the government was really envisioning was to do a really impressive hosting of the games and showcase Philippine ingenuity by using Philippine creative designers and performers,” Angara said.

"I think this is what other Southeast Asian countries have also done when it was their turn to host," he added.

Angara countered that the SEA Games cauldron was designed by late Francis “Bobby” Mañosa, a national artist for architecture.

"I think in his hearts of hearts, the good sponsor, good intentioned as he is, finds difficulty justifying a P50-million kaldero," Drilon said.

Special audit for SEA Games facilities

Drilon called on the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on the country's SEA Games hosting.

But Angara said a special audit is only done when a normal audit is insufficient.

He said P188 million has been allocated for the maintenance of the SEA Games facilities: P120 million for the athletic stadium, P50 million for the aquatic center, P10 million for the athlete’s village maintenance and P8 million for the warm-up track.

Angara said there are rental and sponsorship opportunities for the multimillion-peso SEA Games facilities in the future, citing BCDA initiatives that potential sponsors.

Malaysia officially handed the SEA Games flame to the Philippines on October 3.

This is the fourth time the country is hosting the SEA Games.

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