De Lima seeks probe over delayed submission of 2019 SEAGames' liquidation

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 28 2020 07:20 PM

A sports journalist waits for the press conference in what seems like an unfinished venue before the start of the Malaysia vs. Myanmar men's football game of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila on November 25, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima has filed a resolution urging the Senate to investigate the failure of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizational Committee (PHISGOC) to submit financial statements and to pay its P387-million debt to suppliers.

Under the rules of the Commission on Audit (COA), agencies and organizations that received and spent taxpayers' money are required to liquidate the funds "60 days after the completion of the project," De Lima said in a statement.

"This meant that the report should have been submitted on February 9, 2020... Meaning, the financial statements were already 8 months overdue," said De Lima, who is detained on illegal drugs charges she asserts are politically-motivated.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has ordered PHISGOC to submit its audited financial statements on Oct. 10, but the panel also failed to meet that deadline, the senator said in her Senate Resolution No. 557.

On Oct. 7, the PHISGOC assured that its financial report on the 30th SEA Games was on the verge of completion, after the POC asked for it.

But PHISGOC president and COO Ramon Suzara clarified that out of the P6-billion government funding for the SEA Games, their organization received only P1.481 billion as financial support from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

"We clarify that out of the total P6-billion Philippine government budget for the 30th SEA Games under GAA2019, the PSC has only provided the amount of P1.481 billion as financial support to the Organizing Committee," said Suzara in a letter that was sent to POC secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes.

PHISGOC chairman and ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez, and POC president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino also received copies of the letter.

"Given the controversies surrounding the 2019 SEA Games - from allegations of corruption and overspending, to logistical nightmares and a bevy of complaints from foreign athletes and delegates - it is imperative for Senate and other agencies with supervision over PHISGOC to look into the matter," De Lima said.

"A complete financial report will help shed light on these questions surrounding the PHISGOC's handling of the event," she added.

Under the tripartite agreement signed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), PHISGOC and the POC, the SEA Games organizing panel was supposed to submit "financial reports at the conclusion of the 2019 SEA Games."

POC officials earlier told a Senate panel that several suppliers have yet to receive payment for services nearly a year after the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines ended.

"There is a need to investigate these series of events to determine the cause of delay in the submission of PHISGOC's financial statements and finally determine the truth behind the allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the PHISGOC during the 2019 SEA Games," De Lima said.

"There is also a need to ensure that support and funding are given to the agencies that have the proper mandate, and that accountability lies even with private organizations, especially those who have access to government resources," she said.

The opposition senator was among the lawmakers who called out the PHISGOC's decision to spend some P50 million to build the 30th SEA Games cauldron in Tarlac.

De Lima earlier filed a separate resolution seeking to investigate the organizational and administrative problems raised during the country's hosting of the SEA Games.

The senator, who is President Rodrigo Duterte's staunch critic, is currently detained in the Philippine National Police's headquarters in Quezon City over her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary.

Watch more in iWantTFC