Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Monday revealed that the seven-member panel he created has began their investigation on the possible corruption involved in the Philippines hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. 

“I have just created a panel to conduct a fact-finding investigation, at kapag may nakitang ebidensya we will be forced to file a case against those officials na involved sa alleged corruption,” the Ombudsman said in an interview with reporters. 

According to Martires, the investigation will include all offices involved in the staging of the biennial sports meet. That means the Philippine South Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chaired by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano should also be looked into. 

PHISGOC is registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-profit, non-stock organization and was established solely to lead the SEA Games hosting. 

Anti-graft and corruption court Sandiganbayan has always addressed cases in private offices if public officials are involved. 

“Hindi puwedeng hindi kasama ang PHISGOC. Hindi tayo pwedeng maging selective sa ating investigation. We have to see kung anong participation ng bawat official involved in the Southeast Asian Games,” Martires pointed out. 

Without specifying the timeframe for when the investigation will be finalized, the Ombudsman mentioned that the length would depend on how many documents would be included in the inspection and if these would be readily available.

“Kapag may nakitang ebidensiya, we will be forced to file a case against those officials involved dito sa alleged corruption,” he added.

Cayetano is innocent

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he wants to launch an investigation into the possible corruption of this event, after many questioned the expenses of the government in the hosting of SEA games, particularly for the  ₱50-million cauldron.

In July, the President wanted to block PHISGOC from managing the games due to corruption claims. But recently, he defended his former running-mate Cayetano, saying he believes that the latter is innocent of corruption in the organization. 

“I am sure Cayetano is not involved in corruption,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang.

On the other hand, Cayetano said he is ready for investigation while warning people behind ‘smear campaign’ against him to also be ready because he will unmask them.

Also, together with other lawmakers, he is planning to conduct a probe into the alleged “operation” that intends to peddle “fake news” regarding the SEA Games hosting. 

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