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Solons demand truce on SEA Games debate

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Senator Sonny Angara on Friday called for a ceasefire on the debates over the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games to prevent athletes from being distracted. 

Solons demand truce on SEA Games debate
LOOK UP ATHLETES. This photo, taken on Thursday, shows workers preparing steps leading to the cauldron tower at the athletics stadium for the upcoming 2019 SEA Games at New Clark City in Tarlac, 120 kms north of Manila. The $1-million cauldron, which will hold the SEA Games flame, has drawn anger from the political opposition. AFP

Once the athletes start arriving for the opening of the event on Nov. 30, Angara said, the debates on the matter must be stopped.

He said negative news about the hosting of the Games could also serve as a distraction to the athletes, who should be focusing on their training and events.

“We should concentrate here since our athletes have many issues. They might be distracted,” Angara said.

In related developments:

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• The Philippine government borrowed P11 billion from a Malaysian bank, which it would pay P2.2 billion a year, for the construction of the New Clark City in Tarlac for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

READ: Drilon stews over Games cauldron

He said the P11-billion borrowing was part of the entire P624-billion budget deficit of the government. 

• Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday slammed Drilon’s criticism of the Southeast Asia Games.

“That is a non-issue… whether or not the funds used for the construction of the facilities at the New Clark City in Tarlac for the 30th Southeast Asian Games were borrowed or not,” Cayetano said. 

• The Bureau of Immigration was placed on heightened alert for the coming Southeast Asian Games and the holiday rush.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the directive following the expected surge of Filipino and foreign travelers in the next few weeks.

• Chairman Danilo Lim of the Metro Manila Development Authority on Friday appealed to the public to cooperate with the traffic measures the government will enforce during the Southeast Asian Games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

“We are on track with our traffic preparations. We ask for motorists’ and commuters’ cooperation in giving way to the convoys of the athletes and delegates participating in the event our country is hosting,” Lim said.

As the host country for the 30th edition of the SEA Games, Angara said, the Philippines must be united and show its ASEAN neighbors what the world-famous Filipino hospitality was all about.

Angara, the chairman of the Committee on Finance, said the necessary audit into the expenses made for the Games, including the construction of the facilities, would be done as part of the regular processes of the government.

Based on information provided by the Bases Conversion Development Authority, Angara said, the sports facilities constructed for the SEA Games would eventually make money for the government, which was estimated at a minimum of P100 million annually. 

BCDA president Vince Dizon has informed Angara that the maintenance of the sports facilities would cost an estimated P188 million a year and that this would be done by the private sector.

The BCDA says as early as now, three local real estate developers have expressed interest in undertaking the maintenance of the facilities.

“That was their plan to minimize the maintenance cost of the government because it involves a huge cost,” Angara said.

The SEA Games will be held at different venues including the New Clark City in Pampanga, the Subic Bay Freeport and Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, Senator Pia Cayetano said we should persevere to build a nation of champions.”

While her younger brother, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, does not need to take the job as head of the organizing committee of the Southeast Asian Games when he was still DFA Secretary,  he did it because he believed that our athletes should have a chance to shine in our own country and the SEA Games. 

She said her brother voluntarily appeared before the Senate, something which any Speaker of the House had never done before. 

He set aside protocol because he believed it was more important to shed light on the credibility of the SEA Games preparation. Thus, his appearance as a resource person during the Senate’s deliberation of the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission in connection with the SEA Games,”  Cayetano said. 

She said her brother explained how the government, through the BCDA, took on the task of building a world-class Sports Stadium that is now in New Clark City. With Maricel V. Cruz, Vito Barcelo, and Joel E. Zurbano

READ: Games cauldron: ‘Imeldific? Yes, but reasonable’

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