Cayetano addresses criticisms, says ready to face probe on SEA Games woes

Marje Pelayo
 House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano (R) takes a photo with Filipino athletes during an inspection of the newly built New Clark City Sports Complex, for the South East Asian Games in Capas, Tarlac province, Philippines, 21 November 2019. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday (November 28) defended the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) amid allegations of irregularities in the Philippines’ current hosting of the regional games.

Specifically, Cayateno addressed Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim that irregularities in the transfer of government funds to PHISGOC was similar to a scheme made by convicted ‘pork barrel’ queen Janet Lim-Napoles.

Cayetano, who acts as PHISGOC chair, refuted Lacson’s allegations saying the committee has always been transparent in its transactions.

“Ang nangyare kay Napoles, peke ang mga delivery. Ninakaw ang pera, (In Napoles’ case, the deliveries were fake, the funds were stolen),” Cayetano explained.

Even so, Cayetano said he is willing to face the investigation should the Senate call for it. However, he asked critics of the organizing committee to wait until the SEA Games is over.

“Ang sabi po ng palasyo, kung may irregularities then there should be an investigation, but there are no irregularities. Despite that, with our promise for transparency, haharapin namin lahat iyan,” Cayetano said.

(The Palace said if there were irregularities then there should be an investigation, but there were no irregularities. Despite that, with our promise of transparency, we will face the probe.)

“We will not hide para madali ninyo kaming i-target (come) December 12 (We will not hide so that you can easily target us come December 12),” he added.

He vowed to personally appear in the investigation to answer all inquiries regarding the alleged mishaps and glitches in the conduct of the SEA Games.

Cayetano also expressed determination to file charges against those who have been spreading “fake news” about the regional sporting event.

“Iyong mga nag-violate ng law na umabot sa libel at cyber libel, yes (Those who violated the law up to the point of committing libel and cyber libel). It’s an obligation. Of course, I need the PHISGOC board to approve it,” Cayetano said.

“But my vote sa PHISGOC is that anything that they try to smear — my name or personality is okay lang kasi personal iyon — but you try to smear the name of the SEA Games or the country you should face (charges),” Cayetano said.

Amid the SEA Games fiasco, Cayetano calls on Filipinos and all critics to set aside negativity and support the Philippine teams and the administration being the host of the regional games.

“Huwag ninyong siraan ang sarili ninyong bansa. Huwag ninyong siraan ang sarili ninyong hosting (Do not defame your own country. Do not smear your own hosting [of the SEA Games]),” he stressed.

“Ipakita naman natin ang kagandahan ng ugaling Pilipino, ang kagandahan ng ating bansa, (Let us show them good Filipino values and the beauty of our country),” he said. – MNP (with inputs from Vincent Arboleda)

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