Sotto nixes probe on alleged SEA Games funding anomalies

Published November 13, 2020, 12:00 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III nixed on Friday calls for a legislative probe on the alleged anomalies in the Philippines’ hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

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

Sotto said investigations on the matter should just be left with the Ombudsman as he found it insulting for the organizers of the biennial sports event.

“We garnered an unprecedented medal haul in the recent SEA Games and instead of congratulations, we will reward the people behind with investigations? Huwag ganun (We shouldn’t do that),” Sotto said.

“[May] Ombudsman naman (We have the Ombudsman), if warranted. Ombudsman mag investigate (The Ombudsman can investigate). Pwede din sa kanila file complaint (Complaints can be filed before them, too),” he added.

Sotto had said that he personally would rather wait for the authorities concerned to respond to claims of irregularities before launching a full-blown Senate investigation as appealed by his colleagues.

On Tuesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros delivered a privilege speech calling for a probe on the possible “collusion” in the funding and construction of the SEA Games sports facilities.

She said there were “signs” that the Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s (BCDA) joint venture with a Malaysian developer MTD Capital Berhad to build the P8.5-billion sports facility was “fake” and could have been used to skirt public bidding. She also claimed that funds for the project were taken from a “behest loan”.

Similarly, Sen. Leila de Lima filed resolutions on the said agreement between the BCDA and the Malaysian firm, as well as the reported P387-million outstanding debt of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizational Committee (Phisgoc) to its suppliers.

Senator Pia Cayetano fumed at Hontiveros to defend the BCDA, despite admitting that she did not know the specifics of its dealings for the construction of the sports facilities.

Her brother, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano headed the Phisgoc. The former House speaker, on the other hand, said he is open to any investigations on the controversies that surrounded their handling of the 30th SEA Games as long as there is evidence.

Hontiveros and De Lima’s resolutions were referred to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, and the Sports Committee chaired by Sen Christopher Go.