By Hannah Torregoza
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday defended the controversial P50-million stadium cauldron to be used in the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, saying the country’s own is actually cheaper than the one built by Singapore.
In contrast to Singapore’s cauldron, the cauldron at the New Clark City (NCC) is designed by the late national artist for architecture Bobby Mañosa, was under the Philippine Sports Committee (PSC), and thus considered a “work of art.”
“The cauldron that has been put in the spotlight is cheaper than what was built by Singapore four years ago—P63-million,” said Cayetano, chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Committee (PhisGoc) Foundation Inc.
“Then for Singapore, that was not even designed by a national artist,” Cayetano pointed out, responding to Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon who earlier questioned the cost of the cauldron.
Cayetano, who appeared during the deliberation of the PSC’s budget, also said the cauldron serves as the symbol of the games whether it’s Olympic Games or SEA Games.”
According to Cayetano, the budget for the SEA Games may entail a lot of money, but it is not excessive. He also said the cauldron should be viewed as something priceless, and not expensive.
“While some people may see a cauldron, we see a monument, we see the athletes, we see the burning flames that represent hope and the fighting spirit,” he added.
But Drilon insisted that that it is still a question of whether or not the policy of the state to build new facilities in Clark is a valid issue.
“Because of the 56 sporting events that will take place during the SEA Games, exactly two will be held in Clark – that is swimming and track and field. The question is, is the P9.5-billion expenses justified?” Drilon said in an interview at the sidelines of the budget deliberations.
During the interpellation, the PSC chair William Ramirez admitted that they could have refurbished the Rizal Memorial Coliseum for a cost of P1.2-billion for use of track and field athletes.
Ramirez also said the NCC would only be used as the venue for the swimming and track and field competition.
“The policy issue is, do we have to spend P9.5-billion facilities when in fact we could have spent P1.2-billion to refurbish Rizal Memorial Coliseum?
“The PSC is equipped and competent to handle what PhilsGoc is doing provided that there is coordination with POC (Philippine Olympic Committee),” Drilon pointed out.
As for the P50-million worth of cauldron, Drilon said “it’s a question of propriety.”
“It’s a question of priority. Doon sa P50 million, 50 silid-paaralan ang ating mabubuo. Kailangan ba natin ng ganoong kaluhong facility, which has nothing to do with training?
“Hindi po expense iyan for training. That is a luxury expense. All of these I don’t want to discuss any further. As I said, we want to support our athletes,” he stressed.
“In our case, we feel that [we] could successfully host the games at much less expense. But that is a policy issue,” Drilon stressed.