Visitors (C) take photos next to the cauldron in front of the athletics stadium in New Clark City, in Capas town, Tarlac province north of Manila on December 2, 2019, during the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games).
MANILA, Philippines — It would be up to the House of Representatives to decide whether to probe the issues surrounding the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games but there should be no “witch hunts” that would dishonor athletes who made the country proud, Malacañang said Sunday.
The Philippines’ hosting of the athletic event late last year was marred by controversies, including the construction of a cauldron that costs at least P45 million and glitches related to the billeting and transportation of some athletes.
The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, a private body led by former House speaker Alan Cayetano, had been criticized for the blunders, but the lawmaker insists there was nothing irregular in the hosting of the event.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, who replaced Cayetano after a tense leadership dispute, has said the chamber has no choice but to conduct a probe if someone files a resolution calling for an investigation of the issue.
“The 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games showcased not only our local athletes at their best but also demonstrated our successful hosting of a world-class sporting event. Let us, therefore, not dishonor the men and women who gave honor and glory to the country by engaging in political innuendos and witch hunts,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque noted that the Office of the Ombudsman has formed a panel last year to conduct a fact-finding probe on the SEA Games controversy.
“We welcome this move of the (ombudsman) in the same way that we leave the matter to the House of Representatives to conduct an investigation, if need be, on the use of government funds during last year’s SEA Games,” he added.
Last month, Cayetano said Velasco could put him in jail if he finds anomalies in the Philippines’ hosting of the SEA Games.
The Philippines bagged 149 gold, 117 silver, and 121 medals during the regional sporting event.