Palace acknowledges “something wrong” in SEA Games preparations
Malacanang admitted on Thursday that there was "something wrong" with the preparations in the country's hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace welcomes the plan of the Senate to investigate the alleged SEA Games snafu.
"An array of criticisms has been made on how PHISGOC (Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee) has handled the logistics of this momentous event, and these should be accepted and considered in order to rectify the errors it has committed. The critics have a point. There is indeed something wrong with the preparations," he said.
"There is no sacred cow in this government. We’ve been repeatedly saying that those who transgress to law will be accountable," Panelo said in a press briefing.
He said PHISGOC, headed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, should perform better services expected of it.
"The Palace notes that the Senate intends to conduct an inquiry on the issues which hounded the organization of the event. We welcome such initiative. 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," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
PHISGOC, in a statement, said that Cayetano has declared numerous times that the organization is willing to participate in any form of investigation on the SEA Games after its conclusion on December 12.
But it said that the proliferation of "fake news" regarding the SEA Games hosting should also be probed.
"We agree that during the inquiry, we should be investigating too the proliferation of Fake News a few days before the Opening Ceremony, which has put the organizing committee, the Games, and the country in a bad light," it said, stressing that the Organizing Committee remains focused on ensuring the success of the hosting of the SEA Games.
It also assured the public that all government regulations have been observed amid allegations of corruption.
Amid the hullaballoo on the country's hosting, in the meantime, Panelo said, "let the games continue without the attendant raucous bashing."
He said the local athletes deserve support as he also urged the Filipinos to welcome the foreign guests with the kind of warmth and hospitality they are known for.
"We ask everyone to be more circumspect in reading articles that may contain false information or fake news. Let us not believe them outright. Many of them turn out to be untrue. We call on media outfits to be more prudent in their reporting and avoid publishing information without verification, as allegations are remembered, not their clarifications or justifications," he said.
Panelo also said that President Rodrigo Duterte would give incentives and medals in the Order of Lapu-Lapu to the winning Filipino athletes.
In a press briefing, Panelo also suggested to the organizer to allow students free entrance or even provide them a 50 percent discount in the SEA Games events.
"If I will be asked, personally, they should allow students free (entrance) or if not, 50 percent discount - happy compromise," he said.
Some foreign athletes who arrived ahead of the opening of the SEA Games on November 30 complained of some inconveniences that they experienced, such as on transportation, accommodation, and food. Celerina Monte/DMS