By Ellson Quismorio
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano described on Friday the lengths to which certain individuals have allegedly gone to sabotage the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which will officially start on Saturday, Nov. 30.
“It’s an operation. If anyone plans an operation, they plan a communications component,” Cayetano, chairman of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), told reporters on the sidelines of the Bicameral Conference Committee hearing on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
“Some of my friends in the media approached me, sir, umaagos pera, pero hindi namin tinatanggap (A lot of money is being offered but we didn’t accept it),” he said.
Even the athletes themselves are being wooed to besmirch the staging of the competitions, Cayetano claimed.
“Pati nga sa mga participants ng SEA Games may nagpapahiwatig, ‘we’ll take care of you, pwede mo bang banatan to? (Even the SEA Games participants have been approached and asked, ‘We’ll take care of you, can you attack this’)?'” added the Speaker.
Cayetano also cited the involvement of “social media operators” based on his personal observations that damaging fake news regarding the SEA Games hosting are being “boosted” online.
He said the existence of these sponsored posts is indicative of big financial backing. “Makikita mong umaagos pera kasi bino-boost eh (You can see that big money is involved because the posts are being boosted).”
Four groups eyed
Cayetano said they’ve traced these smear operations to four groups, which he declined to identify so as not to steal focus away from the games.
The Speaker did say, however, that they were “political” personalities and not members of the media per se. He also their offenses “border on cyber-libel and sabotage.”
“We’re digging deeper. May digital footprint eh. So kitang-kita na sila nagkalat at nag-imbento (There’s a digital footprint. We clearly saw that they spread and fabricated it.).
“Political siya. Hindi naman ginagawa ng media groups as a whole yan. These are individuals na ganyan talaga ginagawa (They are political personalities. Media groups as a whole don’t do that. These are individuals who do these kinds of operations),” Cayetano said.
The Phisgoc chairman said he would make an announcement regarding these matters on Dec.12, the day after the SEA Games closing ceremony.
Cayetano gave this message to the supposed SEA Games saboteurs: “You can hate the Duterte administration, you can hate Alan Cayetano, but you can’t hate your own country. Kasi ang nasasaktan dito yung [bansa] (The country will be the one to get hurt).”
The opening ceremonies will be held Saturday at the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor arena. However, some of the games already commenced this past week.