MANILA - What was supposed to be the landmark of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines has become the centerpiece of controversy in the host country days before the regional meet, as Filipino taxpayers question its P50-million price tag.
Metal bars and panes were pieced together to create a 50-meter high structure that would mark the opening of the regional competition, but inside the tower that held the cauldron was a hollow space ladened with gravel.
Metal ladders were attached to one side of the vertical structure. Its metal bolts and bearings still exposed to anyone who would enter the "symbolic" chamber.
The government spent some P18 million for a "mechanism" that would keep the game's symbolic flame burning for 11 days, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), earlier said.
Organizers have yet to clarify if the contraption was meant to be installed inside the cauldron's hollow space.
The government also shelled out some P7 million for the design and construction of the main cauldron, among the last pieces of national artist for architecture Francisco "Bobby" Mañosa before he passed away in February 2019.
Some P17 million was earmarked for the development of the structure's site.
Cayetano had said constructing the cauldron was "not excessive."
"Ang cauldron ay isang monumento. Isa itong simbolo. Isa itong work of art. Ito ay isang requirement sa lahat ng games because it symbolizes the games’ competition, spirit," Cayetano earlier said.
Senate Majority Leader Franklin Drilon said he will seek a Senate inquiry after the games end next month to probe how organizers spent taxpayers' money.