By Ben Rosario
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Philippine Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), vowed yesterday to fully cooperate with the Office of the Ombudsman, which created a seven-man panel to investigate reports of alleged fund irregularities related to the P7.5 billion sporting event.
“We will fully support all investigations, and as I said before, I am ordering full transparency, audits, and opening of all books,” Cayetano said.
But Cayetano issued a “fair warning” against his accusers who used the SEA Games to disparage him and “put politics over country.”
“Personally I forgive you, but for the national interest there [has] to [be] accountability and a reckoning,” the Taguig-Pateros solon said.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires’s disclosure of the creation of a seven-man investigating panel came only three days into the closing ceremonies of the highly-successful Philippine hosting of the biennial regional sports event.
Cayetano said he welcomes the anti-graft investigation as an “opportunity to put to rest all the questions” that have been raised about the alleged irregular and extravagant spending for the hosting of the 30th SEA Games.
He said that no anomaly was committed by Phisgoc, a private foundation tasked by government to prepare for and conduct the regional sports competition participated in by the seven countries that make up Southeast Asia.
“When I was asked to help organize the SEA Games, I was told not only how difficult it would be but also that cases would be filed no matter how strict we are in conducting our affairs. In fact, those who organized the 2005 SEA Games are still fighting cases filed against them,” the House leader said.
Cayetano recalled that a few days before the SEA Games was officially opened, “fake” news reports alleging corruption related to spending for the event circulated in the media.
He said the fake news attack was apparently initiated by “groups out to discredit the government.”
Some senators have vowed to seek an inquiry into the allegations of fund irregularities after Minority Leader Franklin Drilon assailed the supposedly extravagant P52 million expenditure for the SEA Games cauldron.
In the House of Representatives, leaders of both the majority and the minority blocs aired their support for Cayetano and Phisgoc as they decried the alleged existence of a campaign to denigrate the speaker.
Deputy Speakers Mikee Romero (1Pacman Partylist) and Dan Fernandez (PDP-Laban, Laguna) released statements lauding the SEA Games hosting as possibly the most outstanding ever recorded in its history.