MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned the “propriety” of spending more than PHP50 million in public funds to build the cauldron that will be used only once during the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, saying he will ask the Senate to investigate any possible abuses that may have been committed on the matter.
“Sa akin, masyadong extravagant ang mahiwaga at pinakamalaki at pinakamahal na kaldero sa buong mundo, sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa – PHP55 million para sa kaldero (For me, the mystical, biggest, and most expensive cauldron in the world and in the history of the country is very extravagant – PHP55 million for a cauldron),” Drilon told reporters after the plenary deliberations on the budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
“PHP55 million is an extravagance that is so unnecessary and somebody has to answer for this. In fact, after the games in December I will file a resolution asking the Senate to investigate this.” he said.
Aside from pushing for a Senate investigation to look into the construction of the cauldron, Drilon said he will also ask COA to undertake a special audit on all the funds spent for the SEA games.
Earlier, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, and sponsor of the BCDA budget, said the budget for the construction of the cauldron was lodged with the Philippine Sports Commission.
The cauldron, which has a diameter of three meters, cost PHP4.48 million to design, while the the 50-meter high foundation costs PHP13.4 million. Meanwhile, the cost of construction was pegged at PHP32 million.
“I think what the government is really envisioning was to do a really impressive hosting of the games and showcase the Philippine ingenuity by using Philippine creative designers and performers. I think this is what other Southeast Asian countries have also done when it was their turn to host,” Angara said.
Drilon, however, said whatever may be said on the building of the cauldron, the budget could have been better used in building classrooms for the youth.
“The total is PHP55.920 million. Yung isang silid-paaralan ay PHP1 million, so 55 silid-paaralan yung nabuo sana kung hindi dahil dito sa pang-aabuso sa pondo ng pamahalaan. Hindi po nila masagot kung may bidding pa ito, kaya dapat na pag-aralan (A classroom costs PHP1 million, so 55 classrooms could have been built if not for the abuse of public funds. They could not even answer if there was a bidding, so it needs to be reviewed),” Drilon said.
He said the Senate and COA inquiries should be done after the games, as the focus right now is to support our athletes.
“That that is why I terminated my interpellation, because we have to support our athletes. Hindi naman nila kasalanan itong pang-aabuso na nakikita natin (They have nothing to do with the abuses that we see). We need to support them so they can compete and bring honor to our country,” he said.“But it doesn’t mean that we will not question these expenses. As I said, there is time for all of these and the time is after the SEA Games,” Drilon said. Jose Cielito Reganit / PNA – northboundasia.com