Dispatch from Crame No. 655: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the controversies surrounding the Hosting of the 2019 SEA Games


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The 2019 Southeast Asian Games is off to a bad start. There is no question about that. From the corruption that attended the construction of the now infamous Golden Kaldero – undoubtedly the new symbol of corruption in the Duterte government – to the incompetent management of an inexperienced, disorganized team under Alan Peter Cayetano, we cannot hope for worse publicity, whether domestically or abroad.

What makes this fiasco doubly despicable is that despite the billions of pesos spent and skimmed off the top of the budget of the SEA Games by its corrupt organizers, disorganization and inefficiency still figured in to cause discomfort among the athletes and their support groups.

The financing and organization of this event should be subjected to a microscope investigation after the Games come to a close. Everything, from the rigmarole capitalization transaction involving the Bases Conversion Development Authority, MTD Capital Berhad of Malaysia, and the Development Bank of the Philippines, as hatched by former BCDA Chair and now Presidential Flagship Projects Advisor Vivencio Dizon, up to contracting the design of the 50-million peso Golden Kaldero to an apparently bedridden and dying national artist, cannot escape scrutiny after this is all over, if not after the whole event explodes on our faces.

Dizon and Cayetano, the rumored and favored Duterte shake down tandem for government contracts, must also be held to account for the so-called private donations they solicited from Philippine taipans – while using the authority of their public office — which they then diverted to a private organization for expenditure without any semblance of accountability or care for government auditing whatsoever.

Until then, and while the games are being held, we must try to separate this government’s rapaciousness and incompetence from our hosting of the event as a country, no matter how difficult this may prove to be. The ten billion pesos spent, of course, still produced impressive facilities and adequate venues, despite the double toilets, the hollow block / warehouse design media center, the locker rooms without lockers, the field without a scoreboard, no presentable Welcome signs, inadequate food, and last but not the least, towering above all of it in New Clark City, Cayetano’s art masterpiece, the one and only, the Golden Kaldero.

Despite their corruption, the brightest stars of the Philippine political universe still cannot take away from us our spirit as a nation and our graciousness as hosts. Our people still have a hosting job to do, and we must all do it well for the honor of our nation, even if under this dishonorable regime of plunderers.

Huwag muna nating intindihin, sa ngayon, ang mga mandarambong at mga walang kwentang opisyales ni Duterte na nagpataba na ng kanilang mga pitaka gamit ang okasyon na ito. Wala na tayong magagawa pa sa kahihiyan nila. Pero maari pa nating maisalba ang kahihiyan natin bilang mga Pilipino.

Sa ating mga atleta at kanilang mga kaakabay sa pagsasanay, sa ating mga LGU volunteers na nagpapagod para mairaos ang paligsahan na ito, sa ating mga kabataan at kababayan na walang atubiling tumutulong para maging maganda ang kalagayan ng ating mga bisita, magkapit-bisig po tayo sa mga susunod na araw para siguraduhing maging tagumpay ang palaro para sa atin at para sa mga kapitbahay natin sa Timog-Silangang Asya. Kayo ang mga bayani na magtutulak para ang kaganapang ito ay maging tanyag at kaakit-akit na makita sa ating rehiyon at sa buong mundo.

Ipagdarasal ko po ang inyong kalusugan at kaligtasan habang inyong ginagampanan ang sakripisyong hindi ninyo ipinagkait sa ating taumbayan. ###

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 655, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_655)

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