By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday called for unity among Filipinos for the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games when he defended the proposed P6-billion 2020 budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) at the Senate session hall.
“Ilang araw na lang, opening na ng SEA Games. Sana matapos na at mapagpasyahan na natin ang mga isyung ito para naman po makapag-focus na tayo sa SEA Games. Kailangan nating magkaisa para sa ikakatagumpay ng ating mga atleta,” Go told his colleagues in the Senate. (In a few days, the SEA Games will begin. I hope that we resolve the issues raised surrounding the SEA Games and our focus should be on the SEA Games.)
“This should be the time for us, leaders of this country, to unite with our fellow Filipinos and rally behind our athletes. While we are here debating, we have athletes, trainers, game organizers, and thousands of volunteers sacrificing their time to bring glory to the Philippines. They are doing this for the country. There is right time for everything,” he added.
With all the billions of pesos spent for the sports tournament, the Philippines should emerge number one in the SEA Games with the most number of gold medals, Senator Imee R. Marcos said.
The SEA Games starts November 30 until December 11.
The Philippines will host the biennial multi-sport event with 11 countries from the region.
The discussion on the budget of PSC was extended due to the issues raised by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on the preparations for the SEA games hosting which is also being handled in coordination with agencies and entities outside PSC, such as the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and even the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).
Go, as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and sponsor of PSC’s budget, asked his colleagues to limit the discussion on the 2020 budget of the PSC.
“If my colleagues in this chamber insist on asking questions beyond the scope of the PSC budget, then, I think it would be more prudent to hear answers straight from the horses’ mouth. I, too, want to get to the bottom of things based on the rules and in order not to prolong the discussions here at the expense of the budgets of the PSC and other agencies scheduled today,” Go said.
“We can either refer this to another venue or committee and conduct a Senate inquiry so that all issues about the propriety and legality of the PHISGOC’s organizing of the SEA Games can be answered. Kung may mali, let us put it in record at imbestigahan natin pagkatapos, or we can simply suspend our rules and let them answer here and now,” he suggested.
Along with other key officials, organizers, and athletes, PHISGOC chairperson and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano attended the Senate plenary deliberation Tuesday and explained the issues that were raised during the plenary debates last week.
Also present during the deliberations were Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez whose agency’s budget is being tackled.
Go emphasized that he would not tolerate any form of corruption in the conduct of the SEA Games hosting.
“Gaya ng parati kong sinasabi, hindi ako papayag na may masasayang na pera ng publiko up to the last centavo. I will spare no one—kaibigan man o kaaway, kapartido man o kasamahan sa gobyerno, PSC man, BCDA o PHISGOC—I don’t care,” he said. (As I have repeatedly said, i don’t want a single centavo of Juan de la Cruz wasted, I will spare no one- he be a friend or foe, a political partymate or a fellow worker in government.)
“I have a sworn duty to protect the people. At kung mayroon man pong katiwalian sa ating mga sports bodies, ako po mismo, bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Sports, ang mangunguna sa pag-iimbestiga nito,” he added. ( If there is any corruption in our sports bodies, I myself as chairman of the Senate sports committee, will spearhead any investigation.)
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri later moved to have the PSC’s budget deemed submitted and approved.