Limpag: Cayetano’s cauldron

Mike T. Limpag

ANAKIN Skywalker, who was a lava bath away from becoming Darth Vader, told his former master who questioned his choices, “If you are not with me, then you are my enemy.”

That was what I got reminded of when I heard Alan Peter Cayetano’s latest defense of the P55-million cauldron. He implied, among others, that those who question the expense are against the Philippines and its success in international competition. A line often repeated too by a lot of staunch pro-government Pinoys who, a presidential election cycle ago, couldn’t care less.

Speaker Cayetano also cited the case of Japan and said that the Japanese are so united behind its Olympic hosting that nobody criticizes the government. Speaker Cayetano conveniently overlooked one fact, the original price tag of $7.5 billion for Tokyo’s hosting has ballooned thrice, leading to criticisms.

And do you know what else the Japanese have? Politicians who resign because they got tainted by a whiff of corruption.

Is the P55 million cauldron overpriced? I have no idea. That’s up to the Commission on Audit. But is it worth it? Is it advisable?

It’s a big no. That has been the contention of most of the critics. Why spend P55 million for something that will be used once? And if for this Seag hosting we wasted 55 big ones for a cauldron, what more worms will we uncover?

Does criticizing government spending on the games mean you are anti-Team Philippines? That you don’t want the team to succeed and win the overall title? That’s not how it goes but since 2016, politicians like Cayetano love to limit the discourse. It’s either you are with me or against me.

When the plan to build new sports facilities in Clark was proposed by Peping Cojuangco six years ago, to be financed by the sale of the Rizal Memorial Stadium, it was thumbed down. Thanks to the SEA Games, we have sparkling new facilities in Clark and anyone who dare criticize the expense--funded by an P11 billion loan--is suddenly unpatriotic?

President Rodrigo Duterte, in that rare time he finishes a coherent sentence, was quoted saying it could be an investment for a time when we host the Olympics. Is that the fentanyl talking? To win the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo forwarded a bid that is the equivalent of P375 billion but will actually be spending P1.250 trillion for the games, which is a third of the Philippine budget for 2019.

To justify a P55 million cauldron you are going to say that, “Yeah we can use that in the future when we will spend P1.250 trillion for the Olympics.”

Have we collectively lost the capability for critical thought?

Let’s go back to the concern at hand. Post SEA Games, what are we going to do with the Clark facilities that will justify its P150M to P200M monthly maintenance? They keep saying that it will be used for the national teams. Have they actually talked with the national teams for that? Is there a plan that by January, all national teams will move to Clark?

Cauldron or not, we still need the answer to that question. What are we going to do with the Clark facilities after the SEA Games.