Can the Muddle in Manila finish in peace?
Sen. Franklin Drilon opened shooting action ahead when he fired at organizers over the questionable huge cost of the Southeast Asian Games Flame at the New Clark City.
The Drilon attack fueled fireworks that could explode louder after the country is done hosting its fourth version of the biennial regional meet.
Actually, before Drilon, there was columnist Bill Velasco who ignited the furor when he questioned the P54-million game cauldron, called an ugly caldero by Drilon.
In a snap, the hosting hassles raged to the point of the mess being tagged Muddle in Manila by international media.
It was big news all over, with Al Jazeera dedicating a full segment to the chaotic hosting by the Philippines.
The Games, promised to be a thrilla, the biggest, most successful, turned instantly into a national embarrassment.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), frantically parried charges and accusations. He also hit the media for negativism.
Cayetano was quick to swear he did not gain a single peso, and claimed he had even spent their own money.
“Independent journalists report problems and issues imbued with public trust,” the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines curtly told Cayetano in a statement.
President Duterte, after playing it cool, returned from the Apec meeting in Busan visibly bothered. He readily vowed a massive probe.
At the same time though, he took time out to vouch for Cayetano’s innocence, swearing his ally and running mate in the 2016 polls could not be corrupted.
By the way, Mr. Duterte had also done a chorus with Cayetano when the Speaker declared ludicrously that the Games cauldron cannot be object for an audit because it’s a work of art and therefore priceless.
There will be a massive probe, but the honest question to ask is: how thorough will the investigation be?
Shouldn’t authorities take time out to dig deeper, and look back to determine how the roots of the Muddle in Manila were planted?
For the record, Mr. Duterte had turned down the hosting due to various impediments that would later be aggravated by the Siege of Marawi.
After Brunei, the original 2019 host, begged off, Thailand offered to step in and do the honors.
Repeat, Mr. Duterte did not want to host. But in a strange twist, he ended giving a nod to Cayetano.
It’s no secret how Cayetano willingly allowed himself to be used as an ace by a group of sports politicians, headed by a sly, under-achieving former Philippine Olympic Committee president.
Sorry, but it’s doubtful this hideous fact would ever be tackled in the promised Duterte probe.
Cayetano, like it or not, happens to be a priceless Duterte ally—and therefore cannot go wrong.
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