Limpag: SEA Games deja vu

Fair Play

MONTHS before the country was to host the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, organizers had to assure the Asean community that it was pushing through as rumors spread that it was going to be canceled. And that came after sports leaders had to fend off problem after problem.

The political situation didn’t help too as in the middle of that year, the Hello Garci scandal broke out, leading to talks about destabilization against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It wasn’t only the venue preparation that faced problems as the preparations for the national teams was also hampered by the lack of funds.

Even the First Gentleman had to step in, tapping godfathers to handle and finance each national team.

Now, it looks like there’s going to be a repeat of that.

Destab plots? Digong and his mouth are a destabilizer’s wet dream. As for the preparations, Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Ricky Vargas has himself said we are way behind. He told Recah Trinidad that “It’s scary.”

The impasse in Congress isn’t helping also. With a looming reenacted 2018 budget, where will the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee get the funds for the 2019 hosting?

I remember back in 2005, they took a lot of short cuts and made a lot of compromise that those involved never foresaw the problems that would hound them long after the celebrations over the overall title ended.

Up to this day, Peping Cojuangco and Monico Puentevella have yet to fully account for the funds they used for the hosting. Jonathan Guardo was also charged by Commission on Audit, for being unable to liquidate P10 million, something his political opponents used.

But Guardo’s case sort of highlighted the short cuts taken for the hosting. The money was used as intended, for the operational expenses of Cebu’s hosting but in the letter that reached Manila asking for the P10 million, it was indicated that it would be used for the venues. By the time the money came, it was only a couple of months before the SEA Games and correcting that was the least of everyone’s concern.

It is still months away before the 2019 SEA Games, but it seems we are headed to the same mistakes we made 14 years ago. Will the organizers of this year’s SEA Games be hounded by COA for the next 14 years? I hope not.


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