Duterte apologizes for SEA Games ‘mishaps’

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday issued a public apology for the supposed “mishaps” hounding the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Duterte apologized, as he acknowledged that several of the 11 participating nations experienced inconvenience upon their arrival in Manila ahead of the formal opening of the biennial regional sports meet.

Admitting that his administration was “not happy” with the issues plaguing the SEA Games, the President assured the public that he would order an investigation into the matter.

“What happened is I’m sorry. But I’m really apologizing for the country but then again I said they should know while they are still here that government is not happy with it and that their President, the President of the country where they are playing has ordered an investigation,” Duterte said in an exclusive interview with CNN.

“That at least would assuage a little bit of their sama ng loob (disappointment). Back home, they will be talking about it. So do not treat it as a kind of a matter that should be not a cause for concern. It does. It would cause us because as I said when they go back, they would start to talk about it,” he added.

Transportation, accommodations, and other logistical issues have dogged this year’s SEA Games, ahead of its formal opening on November 30.

On Thursday, the President said he would create a fact-finding body that will investigate the supposed mishandling of Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee, a private organization led by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano which oversees the preparations and execution of the country’s hosting of the regional sports meet this year.

Around PHP6 billion has been allotted for the hosting of the 2019 SEA Games from November 30 to December 11 this year.

While he is convinced that the SEA Games’ mess was “unintentional,” Duterte said he wants to find out what went wrong when it comes to organizing the event.

“I’d like to address it to the public, alam mo marami ‘yun (there are many issues raised). You cannot just cast away all those discomfort, the sufferings of the athletes sleeping on the floor, waiting for so many hours, getting hungry,” he said.

“This might really be a small matter but you cannot just flip your fingers there [and say], ‘Ah maliit iyan (It’s just a small issue).’ To the contest that sent them here, it’s a big deal,” he added.

Duterte said those who will be under investigation, including Cayetano, will be accorded due process.

He also ensured that those responsible for the mishandling of SEA Games would be held liable if the results of the investigation find probable cause to indict them.

“I think that the investigation should proceed with the presumption of innocence. Then along the way, if you find some wrong there, either through negligence or intentional, then let it out and we’ll sort out what to do next, whether to file charges or not,” he said.  Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA – northboundasia.com