SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano on Sunday night visited athletes from participating countries that suffered inconvenience upon their arrival and personally apologized to them days before the Southeast Asian Games gets going. “While PHISGOC strives to ensure proper coordination of the arrival details, airport welcome and transportation provisions of all international teams to their respective assigned hotels, we acknowledge our shortcomings in this particular incident and vow to do better,” said Cayetano, who chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.
He spoke with athletes from the teams of Timor Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore and Brunei and apologized for inconveniences caused by their delayed transport and accommodation.
“The Philippine hosting will be great and meaningful for everyone,” Cayetano was quoted as saying on the Facebook Page of the 2019 SEA Games.
While Cayetano tried to mend fences with visiting delegations, more complaints were aired yesterday on social media by various teams, including the Philippine women’s football squad, concerning food being served to them.
“I’m not sure kung paano arrangement ng PHISGOC, but the quality and quantity of food is not enough, sa variety din, like for this morning hindi enough ‘yung rice and kikiam and egg, walang nutrients,” national women’s football coach Let Dimzon said on Facebook.
Malaysian women’s football coach Joceph Jacob chimed in, saying: “Today my breakfast, most of the players eat only bread and some egg. We have a big tournament, I hope they will improve the food.”
Vietnam women’s football coach Mai Duc Chung, meanwhile, voiced concern over the notorious Manila traffic, saying: “The most challenging for our team is the traffic jam in Manila I hope that we have police escorts and don’t have to wait for the bus to arrive. I request to bring more food and escort. We wait for more than one hour for training.”
Yesterday, Singapore became the latest country to lash out at the shortcoming of the Philippines as host.
In a letter sent to organizers Sunday, Singapore chef de mission Juliana Seow said Singapore’s delegation has been dealing with numerous issues ranging from accreditation to insufficient halal food for its athletes and transportation.
The letter said Singapore’s football team staying at Century Park Hotel was not given “sufficient halal food and had very limited food options” while some of its officials “had to starve.”
Singapore’s netball team at Somerset Alabang and its floorball team at Luxent Hotel ordered food outside the hotel to have a full meal.
Japanese mentor Akira Nishino of defending Southeast Asian Games men’s football champion Thailand last Sunday blasted organizers for failing to provide adequate training facilities.
Nishino confirmed at the pre-match conference for Group B coaches held at the Century Park Sheraton that his team had issues with the food being served to them.
“I would want the players to have a good environment and good perfect meal. I’m wishing the organisers can provide [that] for our team players,” Nishino said in an interview published in the Bangkok Post, one of Thailand’s English dailies.
He also complained that his squad had to travel two hours to their training facility at the Binan Stadium in Laguna.
“It’s not realistic, we could not make it by the time, so we had to manage to make training in the streets last night (last Saturday),” Nishino claimed.
The plight of the Timor Leste squad was highlighted by Fox Sports Asia last Saturday after the team arrived at around 4 a.m. and their transfer delayed by at least three hours.
Compounding their miseries, the team members were taken to the wrong hotel before straggling into the proper one nearby where they were supposed to be quartered, the sports website claimed, quoting the Facebook page of the “Asean Football News.”
Complaints and pictures were posted on social media early Saturday showing athletes and support staff waiting in an airport lounge without any Philippine officials to welcome them and ensure they get to their hotels without a hitch.
While Cayetano acknowledged some of the criticisms against PHISGOC, he appealed to critics to take it easy because it’s the country’s reputation that is at stake.
“This isn’t a hosting of the President, the BCDA (Bases Conversion Development Authority), the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) or the PSC (Philippines Sports Commission). This isn’t a hosting of Cayetano. So, let’s help each other because, when you bash the organizing committee, if it is to get us to act correctly or to address inefficiency, it’s most welcome. Pero if you bash us for the sake of bashing us, or because you don’t want the President or other people to get the credit, you’re bashing your own country,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1Pacman party-list said the hitches experiences by the athletes were “nothing new.”
“We experienced something similar in previous SEA Games in Thailand, Indonesia. I experienced this personally in Myanmar,” Romero, who plays for the national polo team, told ANC.
Romero also shot back at Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon who questioned the P50 million fund for the SEA Games cauldron during the plenary deliberations on the budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
The delay in the passage of the 2019 budget which goes through both the House and the Senate was another factor that affected the preparations, Romero said.
“Had the budget not been delayed, these mishaps would probably not have happened. I guess it’s also partly Drilon’s fault because the budget wasn’t approved by the Senate right away,” he said.
PNP ON FULL ALERT
The PNP yesterday went on full alert status in Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon to ensure security of participants in the Games.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the alert status will remain in place until December 14, three days after the end of the Games that will formally open this Saturday.
“Other police regional offices and national administrative units will remain on heightened alert for the duration of the SEA Games,” said Banac.
Full alert means that all leaves and days off of policemen will be suspended to ensure their availability for any contingency. Heightened alert requires 50 percent of policemen must be present in their posts.
Around 27,000 policemen will be deployed for various duties related to the SEA Games, including the security of thousands of athletes and delegates in the game venues and billeting areas.
Banac said among the units that will be utilized is the PNP’s Highway Patrol Group which has dedicated 101 motorcycles, 29 mobile patrol units and 175 personnel for convoy security.
The Philippine Coast Guard has also deployed 1,000 personnel to secure water-based sporting events. The PCG deployed 25 rigid hull inflatable boats, aluminum boats and small boats in La Union and Subic, Zambales.
PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Joel S. Garcia said the PCG will cooperate with the entire uniformed service group and local government units. – With Victor Reyes, Bong Pedralvez and Cyra Corral