No corruption in SEAG cauldron â Duterte
Cayetano said the cauldron, which was designed by the late National Artist for Architecture Francisco Mañosa, is a work of art that symbolizes the games’ competitive spirit.

No corruption in SEAG cauldron – Duterte

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has defended the construction of the P55-million cauldron to be used for the opening of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, saying one cannot estimate losses incurred from a “product of the mind.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has claimed that spending P55 million for the cauldron is excessive because the structure would only be used during the opening of the athletic event to be hosted by the Philippines later this month.

The amount, the opposition senator said, is enough to build about 55 classrooms.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee Foundation, has claimed that the cauldron was only worth P45 million and was cheaper than a P63-million structure built by Singapore in 2015.

Cayetano said the cauldron, which was designed by the late National Artist for Architecture Francisco Mañosa, is a work of art that symbolizes the games’ competitive spirit.

“You know, there can never be corruption in that situation because you commissioned a National Artist,” Duterte told a press conference at Malacañang late Tuesday.

“It is a product of the mind. You cannot estimate how much loss you incurred because it is the rendition of the mind of the creator,” he added.

Duterte said a national artist can set a price tag for his creation and one is free to reject it if he cannot afford it.

“Just like a painting. The one who made it gets paid. How much? We do not know... You cannot debate with the painter... You create a symbolism of the athletic activity. That is the mind of (an artist). There is no extravagance there,” he said.

Duterte tried to turn the tables on Drilon and alluded to the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center. Drilon has denied that the structure was overpriced.

“Ilang kilometro magawa sa presyo sa coliseum ni Drilon (How many kilometers can be built with the price of the coliseum of Drilon?) Is it used every day? Well, if it is used and making money, fine,” the President said.

“But how many kilometers of those public structures there in Iloilo were used to cement all the highways there?” he added.

Duterte also described as “debatable” Drilon’s remark that the budget for the cauldron could build many schools.

“I said you have yours and you also can build so many kilometers of what you spent there – public money in your place,” the President said.

Duterte said Drilon was being “too trivial” when he questioned the price tag of the cauldron.

“When you begin to be too trivial about it, it’s P45 million but compared to the extravagance of everybody, everyone in government, including you, everyone,” he said.

Rep. Mike Defensor of party-list Anakalusugan questioned yesterday the motive of Drilon in raising the propriety of spending P55 million for the cauldron.

Defensor, chairman of the public accounts committee of the House of Representatives, told a news conference that Malaysia in fact spent P85 million when they hosted SEA Games in 2005, while Singapore spent P62 million in 2007.

“We have seen the records. And they spent that amount also for cauldron alone,” he told reporters. “That is a very symbolic monument for any host nation, and it symbolizes our country that will bring honor and pride to us.”

All nation-sponsors of SEA Games, or even the Olympics for that matter, have “such component,” as this represents the nation’s pride and a testament that such country has the capability to hold such global or regional sports events.

“Why are we doing this in the midst of hosting the SEA Games? The timing alone is suspect, the timing should have been way, way before,” Defensor pointed out, noting that this was apparently aimed at embarrassing the country before the international community. - With Delon Porcalla

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