July 20, 2019
TAGUIG Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano’s candidacy for Speaker of the House of Representatives is in peril after President Digong said there was corruption in the preparations for the holding of the 30th Southeast Asian Games to be held in the country in November this year.
Cayetano heads the Philippine Southeast Asian Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), which oversees the preparations for the games that are being hosted by the Philippines.
Cayetano was recently endorsed by President Digong for the speakership in a term-sharing arrangement with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
But the scandal at Phisgoc, involving hundreds of millions of pesos, may change the President’s mind about Cayetano.
President Duterte may also change his mind about Executive Secretary Salvador “Bingbong” Medialdea for his endorsement of and support for Cayetano in the questionable multi-million-peso program.
The scandal involves the gross overpricing of athletes’ uniforms and collection of donations from private corporations when Phisgoc is funded by the government to the tune of P6 billion.
You know how Phisgoc, which is headed by Cayetano as chairman, was able to justify the donations from the private sector?
They set up the Phisgoc Foundation, supposedly a nonprofit private entity.
Phisgoc Foundation, which Cayetano also heads as chairman, collected close to a billion pesos from private companies, including San Miguel Corp. and the MVP Group.
This is not to mention the P200 million that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), a government entity, gave to the Phisgoc Foundation.
Malacañang, through presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, said it wanted an investigation into alleged irregularities linked to the Phisgoc Foundation.
Reports reaching the Palace say that Phisgoc Foundation negotiated the purchase of grossly overpriced athletes’ apparel.
Imagine: a polo shirt costs P5,150; round-neck shirt at P2,480; track jacket, P6,310; track pants, P7,400; shorts, P5,100; socks, P2,700; back pack, P3,190; running shoes, P3,950; caps at P2,400 each.
Cayetano’s defense? “They are all Olympic quality.”
Olympic quality, my ass!
Phisgoc, the government entity, says the P6 billion set aside to fund the 30th SEA Games is intact.
However, there is no accounting for the private donations amounting to, I repeat, close to a billion pesos.
Question: How did Cayetano, who is not a sportsman, ever get to head the government-run Phisgoc?
Phisgoc is the state entity that succeeded the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) which was formed during the time of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, the then chairman of the Philippine Olympics Committee (POC).
Philsoc was formed in preparation of the country’s hosting of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in 2005.
Peping Cojuangco, President Cory Aquino’s brother, is a highly controversial character not only in sports but also in other aspects, especially when his sister was in power.
Philsoc under Cojuangco operated without the supervision of the POC.
In short, it was formed for reasons other than sports development.
After Cojuangco was unceremoniously dislodged as POC president in 2017, key MVP (Manuel V. Pangilinan) lieutenant Ricky Vargas took over.
But Vargas resigned on June 18, 2019 because of allegations of corruption in the running of POC.
Cayetano was appointed by the POC as chairman of Phisgoc. He then created the Phisgoc Foundation without the knowledge of the POC.
Cayetano went to Executive Secretary Medialdea to ask him to support the private Phisgoc Foundation.
Medialdea, apparently without the President’s knowledge, issued Memorandum Circular 56 ordering all government agencies and government-controlled corporations to support the Phisgoc Foundation.
Why Medialdea, before he became executive secretary, would do that — issue an order to support a private entity — is a S64-million question.
So, the S64-million question is who wants to be a billionaire come November, when the SEA Games are held here?
Below is the text of Medialdea’s Memorandum Circular 56, “directing all government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations and encouraging local government units to extend their support to the Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee Foundation Inc. in the preparation, organization and holding of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“WHEREAS, Article XIV, Section 19(1) of the Constitution mandates that the State shall promote physical education and encourage sports programs, league competitions, and amateur sports, including training for international competitions, to foster self discipline, teamwork, and excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry;
“WHEREAS, the Southeast Asian Games, otherwise known as the SEA Games, is a biennial multi-sport event involving participants from the eleven countries of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines;
“WHEREAS, the Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee Foundation (PHISGOC) Inc., a non-stock, non-profit organization, was created to oversee the preparations and execution of the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th SEA Games in 2019; and
“WHEREAS, the successful organization and hosting of the 30th SEA Games requires the involvement, coordination and support of concerned government agencies, the different national sport associations, and the private sector;
“NOW, THEREFORE, to ensure the smooth and efficient organization and hosting of the 30th SEA Games, the following are hereby ordered.
“1. The Philippine Sports Commission, the Philippine Olympic Committee and all the concerned national sports associations shall coordinate and support each other for the effective preparation and successful participation of the Philippine delegates in the 30th SEA Games and all preparatory and relevant competitions;
“2. All other departments, bureaus, agencies and instrumentalities of government, including government -owned or -controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges are hereby directed to render full support and assistance, consistent with their respective mandates, to the PHISGOC in the preparatory activities for the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th SEA Games including, among others, procurement of necessary materials and equipment, provision of support services, and acceptance of donations, in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations; and
“3. Local government units, non-government organizations, the private business sector, educational institutions and the general public, are hereby encouraged to lend their cooperation and support to ensure the successful conduct of the 30th SEA Games.”
The circular, issued on Jan. 25, 2019 to take effect immediately, was signed by Medialdea, “by authority of the President.”
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