Labor group asks Duterte: Waive entrance fees to SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines –  A labor group on Thursday, November 28, asked President Rodrigo Duterte to waive entrance fees to the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), to allow more ordinary Filipinos to watch the competitions to be held in different parts of Luzon.

Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said in a statement that many workers wanted to watch the games, especially the opening ceremonies, but could not afford  the tickets which ranged from P100 to P300 for the games, and P1,000 up to P12,000 for the opening ceremony at the Philippine Arena.

Maraming mga manggagawa at kanilang mga pamilya ang gustong makapanood ng mga laro at magpahayag ng kanilang homegrown support to Filipino athletes and help build that homegrown advantage they needed but they cannot afford the entire cost of watching the games,” Tanjusay said.

(Many workers and their families want to watch the games and express their support to Filipino athletes and help build that home court advantage they needed but they cannot afford the entire cost of watching the games.)

The group added that giving Filipinos the opportunity to watch the games and support the country’s athletes could serve as a rallying point to foster “national healing” and “renewed patriotism” for the games.

The Samahang Weighlifting ng Pilipinas President and former Philippine Olympic Committee President Monico Puentevella made the same call to the President.

Controversies over preparations for the SEA Games have marred the sporting event with both local and foreign athletes bearing the brunt of ill planning in the run-up to the games. Delegations from several guest counties earlier called the attention of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee after players were forced to wait for hours at airports or hotel lobbies and were supposedly served inadequate food.

Days before the international sporting event was scheduled to take place, workers also labored around the clock in a rush to ensure gaming venues were completed in time for competitions.

Criticism over the games’ poor planning despite its multibillion-peso budget prompted Duterte supporters and even some government officials to slam media for publishing photos of unfinished SEA Games venues, saying these caused "panic."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hit this as it reminded the public "the duty of the press has always been to report things as they are, based on verifiable facts, and not to pander to anyone's perception of what is, or should be."

Malacañang also wants an investigation into the SEA Games mishaps as President Spokesman Salvador Panelo observed that some criticism was warranted.

At least 8,750 athletes and officials from 11 Southeast Asian nations are joining the games this year, which will run from November 30 to December 11. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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