De Lima wants probe into PH’s hosting of 2019 SEA Games
Robie de Guzman • December 18, 2019 • 777
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday said she has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the alleged irregularities that marred the country’s hosting of the recently concluded 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 274 directing the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an investigation on the reported organizational and administrative problems, as well as possible corruption, which affected the biennial sports meet.
She said reports on organizational problems surrounding the country’s preparation “betray a political dynamic that could translate to even greater problems in our sports programs in the future.”
“As we celebrate our athletes’ most successful campaign in recent memory, it is likewise important for our government to scrutinize our performance both as a host country and as patrons to our athletes,” she said in a statement.
De Lima said that prior to its opening on Nov. 30, the country’s hosting of the SEA Games has been beset by organizational issues, including early troubles with transportation and accommodations of teams from Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Cambodia, accreditation issues and lack of halal food for Singaporean delegation, and even problems with accreditation of media.
She also said that several volunteers for the SEA Games also aired their grievances over the alleged lack of system and coordination.
De Lima likewise noted the criticisms on the allegedly exorbitant 50-meter tall cauldron-type structure, which costs P50 million, for the lighting of the torch.
“Proper management and governance necessitate that we conduct an inquiry on the recently concluded SEA Games, especially after the problems encountered were duly documented by the mass media,” she said.
The lawmaker also underscored the need to scrutinize the organizational structure through which the country hosts international sporting events “to ensure that the funds will be properly given to institutions with the mandate and capability to properly utilize them.
“There is a need to investigate the existing sports legislation 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.
“While problems of disorganization, incompetence, and inefficiency can be resolved through institutional mechanisms, what cannot be countenanced is the scandalous probability that in the middle of all this disorganization and incompetence, certain high public officials still might have enriched themselves in the procurement of government contracts for the hosting of the games,” she added.
Officials of the Philippine Sports Commission and the SEA Games organizing committee earlier attributed the delays in the preparation of the biennial meet to the delayed passage of the 2019 national budget.
Senator Leila de Lima is urging the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to consider releasing qualified detainees in order to decongest prisons and prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL).
In a statement, De Lima said the government should not to forget those behind bars and to protect those working in closed facilities.
She also said that due to the congestion of detention facilities, PDL’s cannot practice social distancing which makes them more at risk in contracting the disease.
Even with the enhanced community quarantine, De Lima said the number of arrested individuals keep piling up which leads detention centers to exceed its full capacity.
“Given the state of our jails and prisons, the infection rate will be catastrophic. We thus offer a solution: decongest our jails and prisons through a systematic release of qualified PDLs on humanitarian grounds,” she said.
The qualifications proposed by the senator are:
Elder PDLs – 70 years old and above
PDLs with serious illness or disability
PDLs detained, pre-conviction, for minor non-violent offenses
PDLs convicted for minor non-violent crimes
De Lima also stressed that those who committed heinous crimes should not be among being considered for early release.
“If done properly, we would be able to free up additional resources to improve the nutrition and sanitation in the jails and prisons for the remaining PDLs. This will also ease some pressure on the jail and prison health care facilities,” she said. AAC
MANILA, Philippines – United States Senator Richard Durbin renewed his call for the Duterte administration to release detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima, saying this is an “easy and honorable way forward.”
In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Durbin urged the Philippine government to give De Lima a quick and credible trial instead of threatening the travel of Americans with visa requirements.
“The Duterte regime should stop threatening the travel of Americans and so many others who travel between our nations, and instead ensure a quick and credible trial for Senator de Lima or simply do the right thing and release her,” he said.
Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Philippine government would require all Americans to secure a visa before entering the country should the US government enforce the ban on Filipino officials said to be involved in De Lima’s detention.
The Philippine government also ordered the Bureau of Immigration to deny entry to Durbin and Senator Patrick Leahy.
It was Leahy and Durbin who pushed for the inclusion of a provision in the US 2020 budget banning the entry of Philippine officials linked to the detention of the Filipino senator.
Another American senator, Edward Markey, has also been banned from entering the Philippines for filing a resolution calling for De Lima’s release.
De Lima, one of Duterte administration’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade while she was Justice Secretary. She has repeatedly denied the charges.
Panelo reiterated that De Lima’s detention was not a case of political persecution, insisting that the senator was afforded due process and that there is a “probable cause” to issue a warrant for her arrest. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has lauded the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units (LGUs) for the “safest Southeast Asian (SEA) Games” in history.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said there were no serious or major untoward incidents reported that marred the SEA Games.
“Naipakita natin ang ‘Filipino hospitality’ at ang bayanihan ng pulisya, nasyunal at lokal na mga pamahalaan, private sector at media (We have shown the ‘Filipino hospitality’ and the cooperation of the national police and the local government, private sector and media). This will go down in history as the best and safest ever,” he said.
There were 27,440 police officers deployed to site task groups during the whole duration of the SEA Games.
In Metro Manila alone, there were 18,105 officers securing the competitions; 6,554 in Central Luzon; 1,865 in Southern Luzon; and 916 in La Union.
“We will not rest until all the foreign athletes, coaches and staff have left the country. We are committed 100% to their safety and well-being. Congrats to the PNP for a job well done!,” Año addded.—AAC
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