SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday said the construction of the P55 million worth cauldron at the New Clark City may be expensive but “it’s priceless, it’s a work of art” which will become the country’s symbol for the 30th Southeast Asian Games which will be held on November 30 to December 11.
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon has questioned the construction of the expensive structure and said this too much since the amount could have been used to address the shortage of classrooms in the country.
Cayetano was in the Senate on Tuesday in his capacity as chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation Inc., the organizer of the SEA Games, during the resumption of the deliberations of the proposed budget for the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Cayetano said spending P55 million for the cauldron was understandable since other ASEAN countries which have hosted the SEA Games in the past have spent so much more than the amount.
Cayetano also defended as to why Phisgoc had a funding of P700 million for the SEA Games, saying no government funds were placed in Phisgoc as the P700 million was taken from different sources.
He said the PSC needed to come up with a foundation to satisfy a rule from the International Olympic Committee and SEA Games Organizing Committee which states that a juridical entity is needed to run the games.
“If we don’t have a foundation we cannot host the games,” Cayetano said, adding the same was also done in previous international games hosted by the country, referring to the Manila Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Mansoc) in 1991 and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) in 2005.
Cayetano said the New Clark City undertaking will not turn into a “white elephant” since this will be turned into a revenue-generating facility to support its maintenance.
Drilon seemed convinced with Cayetano’s explanations.
At the House, administration ally Albay Rep. Joey Salceda described as “imeldific” the P55 million cauldron for the torch-lighting ceremony of the 2019 SEA Games.
The word was coined after former first lady Imelda Marcos to mean “ostentatious extravagance.”
“’Yung P55 million ‘pag tiningnan mo ‘yung cauldron mukhang resonable naman kaso ‘imeldific’ ‘yung dating, may grandiosity (That P55 million cauldron, if you look at it, it would seem reasonable but it seems imeldific, there’s grandiosity),” Salceda said on ANC’s Headstart.
Salceda said the cost of the cauldron is “only proportional to the new and bolder character of the Filipino as coming of age and breaking into the field of emerging tigers.”
“It personifies the new character for the Philippines being a strong economy,” said the lawmaker, chair of the House committee on ways and means.
Salceda said the budget for the SEA Games is a “lump sum” item in the 2019 national budget.
He said the P5 billion budget for the SEA Games seems to be reasonable, “it’s just that Sen. Drilon compared the price (of the cauldron) to a classroom’s cost.”
“Wala namang classroom na P1 million ngayon. Karamihan ng classroom P2.5 million (You can’t build a classroom for P1 million nowadays, most of its now costs P2.5 million),” Salceda said. – With Wendell Vigilia