Apart from bagging the overall championship with a record number of medals, PHISGOC chair and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the country also made history in hosting the biennial event that participants lauded as the “biggest and grandest edition so far.”
The STAR/File
SEAG double victory for Philippines — Cayetano
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2019 - 12:00am

It’s a double victory for the country as the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games concluded yesterday, according to the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) even as the probe on “fake news” on the hosting begins.

Apart from bagging the overall championship with a record number of medals, PHISGOC chair and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the country also made history in hosting the biennial event that participants lauded as the “biggest and grandest edition so far.”

“The objectives of good hosting and staging the biggest SEA Games were met. We all saw how successful this is,” he said in an interview.

Cayetano cited feedback from participating delegations and athletes as well as statistics as basis for such declaration.

“When we look at the ratings, we can say that this could also be the most viewed SEA Games so far,” he bared.

He said athletes and officials from other Southeast Asian nations who witnessed the event congratulated the PHISGOC and the Philippine government for the successful hosting.

Among those who praised the host nation was Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling of Singapore, who said that his stay in the country for the SEA Games has been “awesome and amazing.”

He was impressed by the Aquatic Center in New Clark City.

Another House leader, Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, agreed with Cayetano’s assessment of the event as he paid tribute to the people behind its success.

“To our volunteers, you are also heroes. Without you, SEA Games would have not been a success, especially in the polo event. Proud of you all!” the lawmaker who competed and bagged the bronze medal in the polo event said on Facebook.

Romero likewise lauded the country’s men’s shooting team for bagging the gold medal in the trap team event. He is former president of the Philippine National Shooting Association and an athlete in the event.
Cayetano vowed to ensure the safe and convenient departure of participants after last night’s closing ceremony, which he said is the last crucial assignment of organizers.

He said PHISGOC would conduct a comprehensive assessment of the hosting, especially since there is a plan to bid for hosting the 2030 Asian Games.
As to the performance of Filipino athletes, Cayetano said bagging the overall championship is an “answered prayer.”

In 2005, the country was also the overall champion when it bagged 113 gold medals.

Probe on SEAG ‘fake news’ starts

With the conclusion of the games, Cayetano said the investigation on the spread of fake news on the country’s hosting will now start as they have already formed a team for this purpose.

The Speaker warned of possible criminal or civil charges against those found liable for the alleged operation to discredit the country’s hosting of the SEA Games.

“We have laws – whether it’s cyber libel, libel or whatever – and you cannot do that to your own country. We want to host the Asian Games in 2030 so we have 10 years not only to build but also to mature and part of the maturing process is for us to be accountable,” he stressed.

“You know, you can disagree with government but you cannot sabotage your own people and your own government,” Cayetano lamented.

Earlier, Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo, chair of the committee on public information, pushed for a legislative inquiry on the spread of such fake news.

He cited what appeared to be a “concerted, deliberate, organized and seemingly malicious disinformation campaign in the media” to discredit the SEA Games, its organizers and the Philippines itself.

Salo said he found an emerging “pattern of fake news” on the Games, including the kikiam supposedly given to the Philippine women’s football team for breakfast when in fact it was chicken sausage, and the circulating photo of the Biñan Sports Complex still being constructed when it was actually a different picture.

Cayetano supported the proposal and said personalities behind several Facebook pages and websites where the fake news reportedly originated as well as public relations people who helped them in spreading the posts should be summoned by Congress for the legislative probe to be conducted after the conclusion of the biennial event.

Meanwhile, Cayetano also welcomed the move of the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the P6.5-billion government fund used in the hosting of the SEA Games.
Cayetano said he is confident that probers would not find any anomaly in PHISGOC’s spending of the budget. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, is urging all stakeholders to sustain their support for Filipino athletes as the Philippines claimed the overall championship at the 30th SEA Games.

Gains of the games

The country’s hosting of the SEA Games boosted the country’s tourism revenues as it is seen to have generated an estimated P523 million, the chief of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum Wednesday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said there were about 7,353 SEA Games delegates booked in 50 hotels in the National Capital Region, Region 1 and Region 3.

“If we look at the estimated receipts, assuming they spend about an average daily expenditure of $100 a day, with 7,353 delegates for 14 days duration of stay, we have about P523,357,128. That’s as of now, the conservative estimate,” Puyat said.

Apart from the two-week SEA Games program, Puyat said some delegates are expected to stay longer to explore the country, which could result in even more tourism revenues. – Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Catherine Talavera

 

“That’s why it’s important to have all of these sports tourism and MICE events. Not only do they stay during the duration of the program, but some stay after,” Puyat said.

Last week, the DOT launched the tourism microsite (philippines.travel/seagames2019) which would help SEA Games visitors, both foreign and local, explore the country while keeping abreast of SEA Games information.

“They can now experience first-hand the culture of sustainable tourism that is making the Philippines a preferred destination among visitors. With the tourism website that we have just launched, their Philippine destination wish list is just a click away,” she added.

Special tour packages with promotional rates available only for the duration of the SEA Games will also be offered on the microsite.

These include tour packages for guided cultural tours and dining with entertainment shows in Manila; private resorts in Laguna; heritage tours and nature exploration in Ilocos region and Zambales; beach and diving activities in Batangas, adventure and recreational activities in Pampanga and Tarlac, among others.

Meanwhile, addressing the mishaps that happened during the arrival of some SEA Games delegates, Puyat emphasized that there will always be glitches in mounting events.

“So when we saw that there were glitches, what we did was we partnered with the private sector to show the best Filipino brand of service,” Puyat said.

While the DOT was initially assigned to do the promotions of the SEA Games, Puyat said the agency decided to help out in addressing the glitches that happened. -Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Catherine Talavera

ALAN PETER CAYETANO PHISGOC
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