Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, defended government expenses in the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games even as he gave assurances the newly built world-class sports facilities put up in Clark will continue to be of use long after the competition is over.
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Cayetano on P50-M cauldron: It’s a work of art
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It’s a work of art.

This was how Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano described yesterday the controversial cauldron designed by the late National Artist Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa for the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) opening next week.

Cayetano, who chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), defended government expenses in the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games even as he gave assurances the newly built world-class sports facilities put up in Clark will continue to be of use long after the competition is over.

He said the country’s hosting of the SEA Games the biggest in history would reap long-term benefits for the country, including the honing of champion athletes and more investments.

Since Monday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has been questioning the expenses of hosting the Games, including what he said was the P55-million “kaldero,” or cauldron to be used for the torch-lighting ceremony on Nov. 30.

“It’s a work of art. While some people see it as a cauldron, we see a monument. We see the athletes, we see the burning flames that represent hope and the fighting spirit. We think it is just appropriate,” Cayetano told the Senate plenary deliberations on the proposed budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“Is it expensive? Yes, but is it worth it, it’s priceless, it’s a work of art,” Cayetano later told reporters.

Cayetano said despite the House of Representatives being co-equal of the Senate, he chose to dispense with protocol to be able to personally clarify matters even as he noted that Drilon himself did not find the expenses “overpriced.”

Cayetano was accompanied by other House leaders and some athletes who will participate in the games.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, conceded the cost of the cauldron is “Imeldific,” or grandiose, but stressed it is “reasonable.”

“If you look at that P55-million cauldron, it appears ‘Imeldific’ because of its grandiosity but it seems reasonable,” he said in an interview with ANC.

He cited the symbolic purpose of the cauldron.

“It personifies the new character for the Philippines being a strong economy... I think it is only proportional to the new and bolder character of the Filipino as coming of age and breaking into the field of emerging tigers,” Salceda pointed out.

Salceda revealed the P6-billion fund for the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th SEAG is a “lump sum” item in the 2019 national budget.

“That was a lump sum. We were asking for the breakdown but it was only listed in one item – SEA Games facilities,” he recalled.

Salceda, however, believed the budget was also reasonable. 

“To stage the Games like that, P6 billion is already small. Senator Drilon is comparing it to classrooms, but there is no more P1-million classroom today because a classroom already costs P2.5 million,” he said.

On the other hand, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) clarified it did not fund the P55-million cauldron.

“The cauldron located just outside the New Clark City Athletics Stadium came from the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC),” the BCDA said in a statement.

“We would like to reiterate, however, that we fully support the move of the PSC, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee to construct a cauldron that would serve as a symbol of the government’s thrust of giving value and importance to our Filipino athletes and sports programs,” the BCDA said.

Accountability

At the same Senate hearing, Cayetano also explained there are some 9,000 volunteers helping out in the SEAG who do not receive salaries, adding the PHISGOC is a requirement of international sports bodies that mandate games must be run by private entities.

He also cited the need for the country to finally have a world-class facility of its own to train its athletes and to host other international tournaments that would be beneficial for the economy.

Cayetano said the New Clark City sports facility in Pampanga was rated Category 1 by international accrediting bodies.

He stressed the PHISGOC is open to any audit after the games.

Malacañang noted the openness of Cayetano regarding his accountability in the holding of SEAG.

“Speaker Alan is accountable to all that relates to the SEA Games. If there are irregularities there, since he is the one in charge, he is accountable for it,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said. – Alexis Romero, Edu Punay, Ding Cervantes

CAULDRON WORK OF ART
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