Sotto can’t be rushed into starting a probe on SEA Games facilities

Published November 11, 2020, 10:48 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday that he would rather wait for concerned authorities to respond to allegations of irregularities in the construction of the sports facilities used for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games before starting a full-blown inquiry as called by some of senators.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Hintayin na muna natin na sagutin ng mga kinauukulan iyong issue bago kami makaisip, at bigla kaming bibiglain na titira ng isang full-blown investigation (Let’s wait for those concerned to respond to the issues before we decide because we might be criticized for launching a full-blown investigation),” Sotto said in an online interview with reporters.

Sotto then echoed Senator Pia Cayetano, who, during their plenary session, lashed out at Senator Risa Hontiveros for proposing a Senate probe on the issues hounding the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BDCA)’s sports facilities project, particularly the loan it facilitated and its agreement with the foreign firm to quickly start the construction.

Cayetano defended the BCDA and its undertakings for the construction of the sports facilities. Her brother, former House speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, led the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizational Committee (Phisgoc) which handled the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games. 

“Tama ang point ni Sen. Cayetano na para bang binabalewala mo lahat ang mga achievement ng SEA Games. Parang binalewala mo ang mga paghihirap ng mga athletes na sasabihin natin na, eh kasi illegal iyong ginawa. Iyon iyon ang point,” he said.

(Sen. Cayetano was right in saying that it may brush aside all the achievements of last year’s SEA Games. That it would seem you are ignoring the hardships of our athletes when you say that the construction was illegal. That was her point.)

“What am I saying is my opinion na let us listen to the answer for those who were alleged involved in the loans,” he added.

Hontiveros on Tuesday filed a resolution calling for a probe on the loan allegedly acquired from the Development Bank of the Philippines to finance the construction of the sports facilities for the SEA Games.

Senator Leila de Lima filed similar resolutions on issues related to the SEA Games, specifically the agreement of the BCDA and the Malaysian firm that constructed the P8.5-billion sports facilities, and the reported P387 million outstanding debt of the Phisgoc to its suppliers.

The resolutions were referred to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, and the Sports Committee chaired by Sen. Christopher Go.