By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has defended the controversial multi-million peso Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) cauldron, saying there was no corruption and extravagance in building the structure.
The President said the cauldron, designed by the late national artist for architecture Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, was “a product of the mind of the creator.”
“There can never be corruption in that situation because you commissioned a national artist,” he said during a press conference in Malacañang late Tuesday night.
“It is a product of the mind. You cannot estimate how much nalugi ka [you lost] because it is a rendition of the mind of the creator,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had earlier questioned the construction of the SEA Games cauldron that will be used to carry the SEA Games flame, saying it was an unnecessary extravagance. Drilon claimed that money could have been used to build 50 classrooms at P1 million each.
But House Speaker Alan Cayetano justified the P45-million price tag of the structure, saying it was neither overpriced nor excessive.
In his remarks Tuesday, the President also shot down Drilon’s criticisms about the SEA Games cauldron, saying it was a work of art and the artist has the prerogative to set the cost of the artwork, adding “you cannot debate with the painter.”
“Kung iyan ang singil niya, eh sabihin niya, huwag huwag mong bilhin kung ayaw mo. Iyan ang presyo ko. That’s like the painting,” he said. “You create a symbolism of the athletic activity. That is the mind of…Walang extravagance diyan,” he said.
Duterte noted that he has portraits hanging in the Palace walls, including one painting that costs nearly P5 million.
The President also turned the tables on Drilon, asking why he built a large coliseum in his home province of Iloilo instead of building roads.
“Ilang kilometro maggawa sa presyo sa coliseum ni Drilon? Is it used everyday? Well, if it is used and making money, fine,” he said.
“But how many kilometers of those public structures there in Iloilo kung ginamit ‘yun to cement all the highways there?” he added.