Duterte orders probe on Philippines’ chaotic hosting of SEA Games

Duterte not pleased with issues blighting the Games. (AFP pic)

MANILA: A slew of criticism surrounding the Philippines’ hosting of the SEA Games prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to seek a separate investigation of financing and logistical problems on top of one being planned by the Senate.

Questions about how state funds allocated for the regional sporting event were used and complaints about inadequate food as well as problems with transport and hotel rooms surfaced days before the Saturday opening.

“The Office of the President will also be conducting a separate probe on the aberrations and irregularities in the administration of our country’s hosting of the SEA Games immediately after the games,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has questioned why the organisers spent 50 million pesos (US$985,000) for a cauldron to be lit during the games, describing it as “a symbol of extravagance.”

The Senate probe was also planned for after the event, even as House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who heads the organising committee, has said the cauldron is not overpriced.

Here’s a rundown of some of the logistical setbacks reported ahead of the Games’ official kick-off:

  • Cambodia’s football team was taken to a conference room upon arrival over the weekend because their hotel rooms weren’t ready. The organising committee said this happened because the team “relayed late” the change in their arrival details. Some athletes from Timor-Leste were also brought to the wrong hotel, but this has been resolved, according to organisers.
  • A football stadium in Manila was still under construction hours before the first game Tuesday, according to social media posts of reporters covering the event. Journalists were also initially brought to a makeshift briefing hall, but that has since been moved to a new room.
  • Coaches from Malaysia and the Philippines asked for better food for athletes, telling reporters at a briefing Monday that they were served just rice, bread and eggs. The chef in charge of the event said that the athletes will be served “the best and safest food” catering to their dietary and faith restrictions, Rappler reported.