By Roy Mabasa
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has requested the Senate Committee on Finance to transfer to another agency the P7.5-billion allocation for the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next year that was “mysteriously” lodged under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) by his predecessor, Alan Peter Cayetano.
Locsin’s request was contained in a letter addressed to the Senate committee which became the basis for some senators, most specifically Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, to question how the P7.5 SEA Games fund was tucked into the budget DFA, an agency that has nothing to do with sports.
Keep your eyes peeled
In a tweet on Saturday, Locsin said: “Frankly, I wouldn’t have asked for a budget that big for sports even if I knew it was going to PSC (Philippine Sports Commission). Too huge. PSC’s budget goes exclusively to training athletes and it is too late to do that with any appreciable effect. So keep your eyes peeled on how it is spent.”
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of Senate Finance Committee, said it was Cayetano who asked that the SEA Games fund be included in the DFA budget.
Cayetano, who is seeking a congressional seat in Taguig, served as chair of the 30th SEA Games at the same time when he was DFA secretary.
How it is allocated
“This is the first time I am hearing that the sports facility budget is under the DFA. It has absolutely nothing to do with the mandate of the Department of Foreign Affairs, with all due respect,” Drilon said during the budget deliberation last week.
It was learned that there is a total of P17.044 billion allotted for the Philippine hosting of the 30th SEA Games.
Of the P17.044 billion SEA Games budget, P7.4 billion supposedly goes to the DFA’s Office of the Secretary, and P9.544 billion to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).
The BCDA is currently chaired by Vince Dizon, Cayetano’s former chief of staff and classmate.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara explained that the P7.5 billion SEA Games budget submitted by the DFA were broken down as follow: P1.371 billion for Sports; P1.326 billion for venues; P1.525 for games services; P107 million for medical and doping; P368,680 million for athletes village operations; P125,320 million for volunteers; P47,840 million for accreditation and uniforms; P450 million for ceremonies; P296 million for broadcast and media; P525 million for PR and marketing; P55 million for international relations and protocol; P566 million for administration and finance; P38 million for human resources; P446 million for IT and telecommunications; and P250 million for security.
Why sports budget under DFA
During the budget deliberation, Drilon questioned the role of the DFA and asked the committee to lodge the P7.5-billion SEA Games budget in the PSC.
“So, obviously, even the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the new secretary (Locsin), feels uncomfortable about the budget being lodged in his department. So, with more reason now, would we now move, we are not objecting to this budget. We are just saying it should be lodged in the proper agency, and that is the Philippine Sports Commission,” Drilon said.