Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon exclaimed his disappointment about government’s priority to spend P50 million on an oversized kaldero (cauldron) for the torch lighting ceremony at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
Drilon said his appeal during a Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
“We do away with 50 classrooms to build a P50-million kaldero that we use only once? I am not even talking about overpricing. I’m talking about propriety,” the senator said.
He even referred to the standard budget in building a classroom, which would only cost P1 million.
However, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, who is the sponsor of the BCDA budget, tried to justify the amount.
“I think what the government was really envisioning was to do an impressive hosting of the games and showcase the Philippine ingenuity by using Philippine creative designers and performers,” Angara said.
Sen. Angara also said that such gesture is what other Southeast Asian countries have done as well whenever they host the SEA Games.
Nevertheless, the Minority Leader was not pleased with Angara’s justification.
“I think it is heart of hearts. The good sponsor, with good intention as he is, finds difficulty justifying a P50-million kaldero which is equivalent to 50 [classrooms],” Drilon said.
Probe into lavish expenses of the govt for SEA Games
Furthermore, Drilon asked if it would be appropriate to have a special audit of the SEA Games funds even after its conclusion.
Angara answered that a special audit would only be necessary when the normal audit is regarded insufficient.
After showing the breakdown of costs, as follows, Drilon said he would file a resolution for a Senate probe into the lavish expenses:
- P4.4 million for the design of late Filipino architect Bobby Mañosa
- P13.4 million for the cost of cauldron’s foundation
- P32 million for the construction of the cauldron
“[We need to support our athletes], so they can compete and bring honor to our country. But it doesn’t mean that we will not question these expenses,” Drilon said.
The hosting of the Philippines of the SEA Games 2019 has a total budget of P6 billion—P5 billion was from the 2019 national budget and P1 billion from augmentation fund approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.