By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has offered his “100 percent” support for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and directed concerned sports officials to ensure that disbursement of funds will not be tainted by corruption.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea affirmed the President’s “full support” while calling for national unity to ensure an “outstanding” hosting of the international sporting event later this year.
Medialdea hosted a gathering of sports officials, coaches and athletes and other stakeholders in Malacañang to rally unity and support amid allegations of questionable deals hounding the hosting of the SEA Games.
“This meeting is called within the walls of Malacañang Palace to show that President Duterte is giving his 100 percent support to the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games,” Medialdea said during the meeting at the Palace.
“Full support ang Presidente sa Philippine sports,” he added.
Warning vs corruption
In the same assembly, Senator Christopher Go said the President’s marching order to Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is to make sure public funds for the international sporting event are not misused and wasted.
Go said the President does not want corruption in the disbursement of funds intended for the country’s hosting of SEA Games and the athletes.
“The President has directed them to ensure there will be no corruption in the procurement,” he said in Filipino during an interview with reporters at the Palace.
“The President told them to ensure a smooth and clean procurement. Not a single peso should be wasted, especially since these are government money, these are public funds,” he added.
At present, Go said the Phisgoc stays as the SEA Games organizing committee, POC will supervise the games, and PSC will handle fund disbursement through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The private funds, on the other hand, will go through the Phisgoc, according to Go. “They will be accountable for this,” he said.
Asked about alleged overpriced transactions for the athletes’ wear, Go said House Speaker Alan Cayetano, who leads PHISGOC, had denied corruption allegations during their recent meeting.
“After our meeting last week with Cayetano, there is none. So we hope everything will go smoothly. There must be no corruption. The President doesn’t like corruption. No peso should be wasted. The funds must be used for the games and the athletes,” he said.
Medialdea, meantime, echoed calls to “set aside differences and join hands in unity to work as one well-oiled machinery and provide a hosting of the 30th SEA Games that every Filipino should be proud of.”
He said squabbling among groups should be put aside, adding the preparation for the hosting and the training of athletes should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“This call for support and unity is embodied in Memorandum No. 56 directing all government agencies and instrumentalities, including GOCCs, and encouraging LGUs to play an active role in the preparation, organization, hosting, and holding of 30th Southeast Asian Games,” he said.
Medialdea voiced confidence that Phisgoc and other sports committees can bring the SEA Games “to its outstanding fruition.”
He also took a swipe at the “noisy critics” questioning the government preparations for the SEA Games, and challenged them to instead show proof of support for the sports sector.
“Driven by our love for our country, let us move forward and get this done our way – the way where unity is the core and the betterment of the welfare of the Philippine sports and our Filipino athletes are the goals,” he said.