On the corruption and incompetence in preparing and holding the 30th Southeast Asian games

Statement by Jose Maria Sison
November 25, 2019

Like the rest of the Filipino people, I am appalled and disgusted by the Duterte regime’s naked and shameless incompetence, waste and plunder of public funds in the mismanagement of the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Cayetano should immediately resign and be replaced by a Filipino Olympian, a World Record holder or a Former National Athlete, with known administrative skills and with a competent team. Corrupt and inept politicians like Cayetano, who are favored by a corrupt and incompetent regime like that of Duterte, should be banned from national sports bodies. They only know how to loot and plunder public funds, and they deny Filipino athletes the full state support they deserve.

The entire committee headed by Cayetano should resign. They are complicit in his bumbling and corrupt kind of leadership. They should all be investigated and prosecuted. The SEA Games can still be saved but it will require Herculean efforts and strong national unity that could only come from a high sense of patriotism and a credible new leadership. Cayetano does not have both. In fact, he and other Duterte minions are the main source of problems Filipinos now have to solve.

The new chair could appoint members from the ranks of veteran athletes, and representatives from Filipino professions and other sectors with proven competence in holding international events; in quickly but safely refurbishing the venues; in installing timekeeping and other digital equipment; in coordinating among multiple organizations all at the same time; in ensuring transport, communications and accommodations; and in providing adequate, timely and proper food to thousands; and other concerns.

The new chair and committee should quickly assess the situation. If the health and safety of all participating athletes would be their paramount concern, it might even be wiser for the Duterte regime to apologize for its corruption and incompetence and to announce a postponement of the games to the first quarter of 2020. It would thus be better than holding the games now under the circumstances that continue to shock us all.

It is tragic that corruption in Philippine sports had to erupt in the days leading to the SEA Games. But that is the fault of the inept and the corrupt regime. It is bound to happen that its most brazen and bottomless greed would be exposed. The Filipino people should continue to support Filipino athletes. Their outrage is directed at the evil Duterte-Cayetano combine.

It is time to re-examine and finally end the corrupt bureaucrat capitalist rule of reactionary politicians, retired military generals and oligarchs in Philippine sports who thrive on stealing public funds. They are the plague afflicting Philippine sports.

Their corruption takes away from athletes the leadership roles, state funding and competent management of their national associations. Left on their own and with adequate state and public support, our athletes can do better in looking after their own development and welfare than the likes of Cayetano.

While it turns out the P50-million cauldron could be the most scandalous problem now, it should light up the paper trails of corruption, ineptitude and mismanagement that lead to and incriminate the Office of the President and the Office of the House Speaker.###

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