De Lima wants SEA Games irregularities probed

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    DETAINED Sen. Leila De Lima has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the alleged irregularities that marred the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

    De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 274 directing the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an investigation on the reported organizational and administrative problems, as well as possible corruption, that affected the biennial regional sports meet that started on Nov. 30 and ended last Dec. 11.

    “As we celebrate our athletes’ most successful campaign in recent memory, it is likewise important for our government to scrutinize our performance both as a host country and as patrons to our athletes. The reports on organizational problems surrounding our preparation betray a political dynamic that could translate to even greater problems in our sports programs in the future,” De Lima said.

    Before the opening rites on Nov. 30, the games were been beset by organizational issues, including early troubles with transportation and accommodation of teams from Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Cambodia, accreditation issues and lack of halal food for Singapore’s delegation, and even problems with media accreditation.

    The Duterte administration also drew flak for allocating more than P50 million for a 50-meter tall cauldron-type structure for the SEA games flame.

    The unrelenting backlash on social media received by the government forced Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chair and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to issue an apology.

    “Proper management and governance necessitate that we conduct an inquiry on the recently concluded SEA Games, especially after the problems encountered were duly documented by the mass media,” De Lima pointed out.

    She also underscored the need to scrutinize the organizational structure through which the country hosts international sporting events to ensure the funds will be properly given to institutions with the mandate and capability to properly utilize them.

    Sen. Richard Gordon, Senate blue ribbon committee chair, said he will look at De Lima’s resolution “so that we can have directions.”

    “Let those who have evidence come forward, and we will help them. We can also look for other sources of information,” Gordon said.