Disaster in the making? Volunteers cry foul as Philippines' SEA Games hosting nears

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Disaster in the making? Volunteers cry foul as Philippines' SEA Games hosting nears
The 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony will be held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan while the closing program will be at New Clark City.
Ding Cervantes

MANILA, Philippines —  With barely a week left before the Philippines hosts the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the controversies continue to pile up.

Apart from allegations of corruption due to lucrative budget spending, logistical mishaps and botched promises to volunteers have also come to light.

Prompted by an anonymous thread posted on Twitter by user @AltABSCBN, volunteers have opened up about their experiences.

Philstar.com was able to talk with one of the volunteers, who requested anonymity. She narrated inefficiencies on the part of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).

Logistical, scheduling mishaps

From short notices of training schedule to failing to make good on promises, volunteers have had more hassles than benefits so far.

"The idea of volunteering for the SEA Games was a very enticing thing back in the early months of this year," she said.

"During that process, it was mentioned that volunteers will be asked to be available around 4-12 days during the SEA Games schedule. That time frame was reiterated through the Google form that was answered," she added.

But as the actual training loomed, the expectations of the volunteers have become volatile.

"On this training, all the red flags piled up. Firstly, the main head kept saying that it would be better if we were available from November 15 to December 15 or roughly two weeks or more... when they called for volunteers, they only said a minimum of four days volunteering," she said.

"Now, they suddenly change that and expect the volunteers to agree?" she added.

The volunteer also expressed concern over insurance for herself and the others who agreed to offer their time and efforts for the biennial meet.

"Someone had asked if there was going to be insurance for the volunteers and the answer was they were working on it," she said.

"Not to be entitled or anything, but the volunteers are giving up quite a lot and in any event that something does happen to them, shouldn't they be at least insured? Seeing as some of the volunteers will be assigned to be liaison officers to some VIPs, I think it was something to think about," she added.

She also said that tasks were still unclear since there were still no clear assignments for each of the volunteers.

"I myself have no idea what I'm going to do. I don't know what team I am part of," she said.

"I have no idea if I'm staying in the Metro Manila cluster or not. They kept saying everyone will have a volunteer manual or something similar but nothing so far," she added.

Contract issues

Meanwhile, other volunteers also began speaking up on their experiences on social media platform Reddit.

Well yes and a no from r/Philippines

Reddit User Fushi02 shared an experience during a SEA Games test event along with other volunteers.

"After we arrived in the location, the head of the volunteer group in our school asked for our lunch. Ang tagal na wala pa din and malapit na kami i-deploy sa sports namin kasi magsisimula na 'yung games," Fushi02 wrote.

"Hanggang sa nainis na 'yung head namin at pina-pull out kaming lahat, we went sa isang restaurant and she paid for our lunch, more than 20 kami," they continued.

On the SEA Games website, volunteers were promised meals during their deployment and any required training.

"Nakiusap yung mga taga PHISGOC na bumalik kami so we went back. Nalaman na lang namin na sa actual SEA games, wala daw talaga food na provided. Ang initial reaction ko is nainis, okay na nga na walang compensation kasi we volunteered naman, pero pahihirapan pa nila kami maghanap ng food sa venue?," Fushi02 added.

Another user pointed out discrepancies on the contract volunteers were asked to sign.

The user alleged that the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) did not make true on their promises.

"Nakalagay sa contract signing ng mga volunteers na wala kaming dapat asahan na monetary compensation either for food allowance or transpo allowance and if may mangyare sa mga volunteers, wala silang pananagutan," said Reddit user Vanillabbx.

"Pero nung naghahanap sila ng volunteers sinabi nila na may allowance daw as compensation... Nung orientation sabi nila may food daw, why would you want us to sign a contract na 'yung content is kabaliktaran ng sinasabi niyo?" they said.

WIth a hosting bid heavily reliant on around 4,000 volunteers, it may be difficult to achieve successful games if the allegations ring true.

Philstar.com has reached out to the PHISGOC but has yet to receive a response as of posting time.





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