‘Is it appropriate?’: Senator Drilon questions PH50 million cauldron for SEA games

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon yesterday questioned the wisdom of spending PHP50 million (US$983,800) on a cauldron intended to carry the ceremonial flame for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games later this month, calling for an audit of spending surrounding the games.

Read: Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program a ‘dismal failure,’ Senator Drilon says

Speaking during a Senate hearing, Drilon said that the amount spent on the cauldron, which he called a “kaldero,” should have gone instead to other, more important projects — for instance, erecting 50 school buildings.

“The question is, is it proper, is it appropriate, is it valid… that we do away with 50 classrooms, to build a PHP50 million kaldero that we [will] use only once?” he posed.

Designed by the late National Artist for Architecture Francisco Mañosa before his death in February, the monument consists of a three-meter-wide cauldron atop a 15-meter-tall pedestal, according to the news program “24 Oras.” Some PHP32 million (US$630,000) of its budget went to the construction of the actual cauldron itself, while PHP14 million (US$275,000) went towards building its foundation. Meanwhile, PHP4 million (US$78,000) went to Mañosa & Company, Inc., Mañosa’s architecture firm.   

Senate Finance Committee Chair Senator Sonny Angara, who supported the approval of the games’ budget and was castigated by Drilon, defended the staggering cost — at least, in a sense. He admitted that he had no idea how the games’ budget as a whole was going to be spent, but nonetheless defended the expenditure as a way to showcase Filipino creativity.

“What the government was really envisioning, by hosting the games, was to showcase the Philippine ingenuity, by showcasing Philippine designers and performers. I think that’s what other SEA (Southeast Asian) countries have done when it was their turn to host,” Angara said.

Drilon, unsurprisingly, did not appear to be appeased by Angara’s explanation, calling for a special audit of the SEA Games’ budget, which also included PHP188 million (US$ 3.6 million) earmarked for the maintenance of an athletic stadium, an aquatic center, and the athletes’ village.

Angara told Drilon that an audit will be conducted after the Games, and that a special audit can only be done if a normal audit appears insufficient or irregular.

Over at Twitter, meanwhile, netizens were quick to side with Drilon on the subject. Humor account @MalacananEvents even posted a photo of the cauldron yesterday and wrote, “This is not your ordinary SEA Games cauldron. Aside from its clean and simple design, the organizers jacked up its price tag to make it easier to plunder money.”

Do you think something smells fishy with that cauldron? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.

This article, ‘Is it appropriate?’: Senator Drilon questions PH50 million cauldron for SEA games, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!