Ombudsman starts SEA Games probe

ON THE ATTACK. Filipino Charly Suarez (left) and Thai Pidnuch Khunatip exchange blows during the men’s lightweight finals of the 30th Southeast Asia Games at the PICC Forum in Pasay City. Suarez won. photo by DJ Diosina

The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday, December 9, started its investigation into the possible corruption in the organizing of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

“I have just created a panel to conduct a fact-finding investigation, at kapag may nakitang ebidensya (and if we find evidence) we will be forced to file a case against those officials na involved sa (involved in) alleged corruption,” said Ombudsman Samuel Martires in an interview.

He added that the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) — a non-stock, non-profit group created solely for the hosting of the SEA Games — is included in the probe.

“Hindi puwedeng hindi kasama ang PHISGOC (We cannot not include PHISGOC),” Martires said.

“Hindi tayo pwedeng maging selective sa ating (We will not be selective in our) investigation. We have to see kung anong (what is the) participation ng bawat (of each) official involved in the Southeast Asian Games,” he added.

Martires also said that the seven-man panel will also investigate the other agencies that had a hand in organizing and hosting of the SEA Games, adding that the panel has already begun collating documents.

“I gave the panel the discretion kung paano nila gagawin ang investigation, basta ang kailangan ko lang sa kanila ay report ng kanilang investigation which I suppose will be completed anytime within the year (I gave the panel the discretion how to do their investigation, I just need their report which I suppose will be completed anytime within the year),” he said.

And while House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who is also the PHISGOC chairman, welcomed the investigation, he maintained that there was no anomaly.

“We welcome this as an opportunity to put to rest all the questions so that we may move forward in celebrating the success of our athletes and honoring the sacrifices of our workforce and volunteers,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.

“We will fully support all investigations, and as I said before, I am ordering full transparency, audits and opening of all books. Thousands of Filipinos worked hard and faithfully to make the Games the success that it is. Wala itong anomalya (There’s no anomaly here),” he added.

Cayetano also warned those who criticized the SEA Games.

“As we are ready to meet all these accusations, I am also issuing fair warning to all those who plotted against the SEA Games and put politics over country; those who espoused and spread fake news and malicious lies. Personally, I forgive you, but for the national interest there to accountability and a reckoning,” he said. 

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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