SenSAP gets grilled

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    I HAVE seen clips on Facebook of a recent interpolation conducted by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on SenSAP Christopher Go, on matters related to the expenditures around the Southeast Asia Games which we are hosting next month.

    Drilon had a number of questions for SenSAP (whom I still call SAP because he has not given up his all important role of being the President’s companion in almost anything our Chief Executive does – visit dead VIPs, have a medical check-up, meet champion athletes and the like) and they included questions about the maintenance of the sports facilities that have been built for the SEA Games as well as about how we will ensure that the facilities remain in good condition long after the events are over.

    Drilon claims to have visited numerous sports stadia abroad that, he says, have gone to seed. He worries the facilities we have built will meet the same fate.

    He is not wrong on that point actually, because many a city that has hosted the Olympics or a major sports event like the FIFA World Cup usually worries about how to generate enough income to pay for the maintenance of the facilities.

    SenSAP cited a figure of P150 million as the cost of maintaining the facilities that have been prepared for the SEA Games. I suppose these mainly are the newly-built stadium in New Clark City including the nearby aquatic center, and maybe even the refurbished Rizal Memorial Coliseum. I’ve seen the New Clark City facilities and they are a sight to behold.

    SenSAP, citing the president of the BCDA (Vince Dizon, who was actually like an angel perched on SenSAP’s right shoulder whispering answers for the questions being asked) assured the Minority Leader that there are plans to privatize the maintenance of the facilities through, for example, the creation of a sports school for the training of current and potential national athletes, something like a PRRD version of “Gintong Alay” of the Marcos years that was then headed by presidential nephew Michael Keon and was based in Baguio City.

    The Gintong Alay track was built inside Teachers Camp, and Baguio was chosen in part because the altitude was actually tougher on the athlete. If they can survive Bagiuo’s pressure (for one, breathing is harder for an athlete in Baguio as compared to the lowlands) then they’ll be looking good when competitions begin.

    Of course, the New Clark City stadium is perfect for real competition and not just for training because of the roofer seats that surround the track and field oval.

    The Rizal Memorial coliseum, said SenSAP, could be used for the games of such leagues as the UAAP. Indeed, as an elementary school student in the late 1960s and early 1970s we would travel from QC to Vito Cruz to watch the six teams of the UAAP battle it out inside the then-electric fan cooled RMSC. It would be a homecoming of sorts for the UAAP to return to Vito Cruz.

    One matter that wasn’t settled (at least in my book) was the issue of a private foundation being made to receive public funds for purposes of hosting the SEA Games. This was an issue that rocked the sporting community earlier this year and threatened to imperil our hosting of the Games. I suspect that the issue has been papered over in the light of the timetable, but I suspect, even fear, that the matter will burst into the open once more once the last foreign athletes have flown out and the lights have been turned off for good at the conclusion of the Games.

    I only wish to mention two more things that I noticed about the grilling that SenSAP was put through.

    The first was the dignified way it was conducted, thanks in part to written and unwritten rules in the Senate that keep matters from getting out of hand and members of the Senate from engaging in trash talk that, say a POTUS engages in through Twitter. Because members address the presiding officer (“Mr. President…”) when propounding questions, some impersonal-ness is maintained and the person of the queried is never attacked – no matter how vague or unresponsive the answers.

    The second was a curiosity: I’ve always seen Senators interpolating each other standing up, but this time SenSAP was seated, surrounded by angels who had the answers he needed. Why? Is something ailing SenSAP? Or was his seat just more accessible to his staff who would have had a harder time passing him notes had he been standing at a rostrum like all other Senators of the Republic do?

    Here’s hoping SenSAP remained seated during his recitation for no serious health reason and simply because it was an option open to any member of the Senate (though it seems to me very rarely used?), and hoping as well that #WeWinAsOne during the SEA Games after all the preparation by the athletes and our sports officials.

    Let’s park the questions on what to do with the facilities till after the Games so we can cheer as one nation, praying that we will be hearing our National Anthem played the most often throughout the competitions!

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