President Rodrigo Duterte has defended the controversial P55-million worth cauldron that will be used in the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2019, denying claims that its construction involved corruption.
“There can never be corruption in that situation because you commissioned a national artist,” he said in a press conference held in Malacañang on Tuesday.
Duterte credited the expensive price of the structure to the fact that it was the “product of the mind” of the late national artist for architecture, Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa.
“Mañosa was commissioned by the government to create the cauldron. It is a product of the mind,” Duterte said.
“You cannot estimate how much nalugi ka because it’s the rendition of the mind of the creator. Kung ‘yan singil niya sabihin niya ‘wag mo bilhin kung ayaw mo. ‘Yan ang presyo ko,” he added.
Just like commissioning a painter
On Monday, during the deliberations of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s proposed budget for 2020, it was revealed that Mañosa originally designed the cauldron for P4.4 million. The foundation of the structure amounted to P13.4 million while its construction cost P32 million.
Duterte then compared it to commissioning a painter who anyone could not debate with the price of his masterpieces as it was the artist’s rendition.
“If that’s his price, then he will say, then don’t buy it if you don’t like it. That’s my price, just like a painting. You commission a painting, a family painting… Those who painted that were paid, how much? We don’t know. A painting of President Duterte there, it was paid for, maybe P5 million?” he described.
“You cannot debate with the painter… Now, you create a symbolism of the athletic activity… There’s no extravagance there,” Duterte added.
Drilon questions price of cauldron
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned the price of the cauldron which will carry the SEA Games flame, saying it was an “unnecessary extravagance.”
According to him, the money spent for the cauldron could have been allotted for the construction of 50 classrooms worth P1 million each.
“P55 million is an extravagance that is so unnecessary and somebody has to answer for this,” Drilon said.
“‘Yung isang silid ng paaralan P1 million, ito 56 na silid-paaralan ang nabuo sana kung hindi ganito kalaki ang pangaabuso sa pondo ng taumbayan.”
However, the President responded by questioning Drilon’s P450-million convention center in his home province Iloilo constructed last September 2015 for the Asia Pacific Economic Conference. Of the said amount, around P250 million came from Drilion’s priority development assistance fund.
“How many kilometers could have been constructed with Drilon’s coliseum? Is it used every day? Well, if it is used and making money, fine,” Duterte asked.
“How many kilometers of those public structures there in Iloilo [could have been constructed] if it was used to cement all the highways there?”