Cayetano suspects PHISGOC allegations linked to speakership race

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Monday, July 22, that allegations of corruption against the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), which he chaired, were apparently linked to the heated speakership race.

Cayetano aired his suspicion on Monday, July 22, as he continued to debunk allegations of anomalous deals in the country's  hosting of the Southeast Asian Games this year.  (READ: 2019 SEA GAMES: Cayetano debunks claims of questionable deals

He suspected the corruption issues against PHISGOC were raised only because he was running for Speaker around the same time that the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) was holding its own election. 

“That's all been cleared. Tinatali nila 'yan sa speakership even 'yong sinasabi nilang corruption allegation. Nilinaw na ng Malacañang and ni singko walang nawawala (They’re trying to tie that with the speakership, even the corruption allegations. Malacañang already cleared that not a single centavo was stolen),” said the Taguig City-Pateros representative.

“In the next few days, I'm sure na puwede nating himayin ‘yan. But ang duda ko talaga dinikit 'yan kasi 'pag may eleksyon, may batuhan ng putik. Eh nagkasabay dalawang eleksyon: eleksyon ng Speaker at eleksyon ng POC. So ang problema nagbabatuhan. Ang pakiusap ko lang huwag naman maapektuhan ang mga atleta,” he added. 

(In the next few days, I’m sure we can dig into this deeper. But I really suspect they’re trying to tie the issue here, because whenever there's an election, there's mudslinging. Two elections happened simultaneously: the election for Speaker and the election at the the POC. So the problem is mudslinging. My appeal is for them to leave the athletes out of it.)

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself – the same man who had endorsed Cayetano for Speaker – had accused PHISGOC of corruption. 

The President wanted the government to organize the 2019 SEA Games instead, as PHISGOC was accused of forging questionable deals like the overpricing of training uniforms from sports apparel company Asics.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, later clarified that Cayetano, though PHISGOC chair, was not covered by the allegations against PHISGOC. 

Despite the controversy, Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez said PHISGOC would continue to oversee the Philippines’ hosting of the SEA Games from November 30 to December 11. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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