Pia Cayetano, Hontiveros clash over 2019 SEA Games facilities

Senator Pia Cayetano and Senator Risa Hontiveros exchanged arguments over the latter’s accusations of anomalies in constructing the sports facilities used for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

During her privilege speech, Hontiveros claimed that issues were surrounding BCDA and developer MTD Capital Berhad credit arrangement. The senator described the deal as a suspect Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) to construct sports facilities in New Clark City.

Hontiveros filed Resolution No. 567, urging the upper chamber to prove the matter amid supposed signs that the project was a “fake joint venture” funded with a “behest loan” — or a loan given to firms favored by top government officials.

As a response, Pia Cayetano defended the 2019 SEA Games project, saying: “This is a world-class stadium, built in record time…The SEA Games would not have been as successful as it was if we had only the dilapidated stadium of Rizal Memorial [Sports Complex] and Ultra [Philippine Sports Complex.”

Cayetano then asked Hontiveros if she had visited the facilities in New Clark City, citing how Filipino athletes appreciated it.

“I am embarrassed that we cannot even honor that. I am embarrassed that we choose to make a political issue out of a world-class facility,” Cayetano said, who is also a triathlete and sports advocate. She also started to raise her voice.

“Kaya tuloy wala nang mag-aabalang magpatayo ng matitino at kahanga-hangang infrastructure dito sa Pilipinas, dahil magpatayo ka lang nang maganda, eh sasabihin na sayo na may kalokohan ka. So paano, puro bulok na lang tayo? Para walang pumapansin, ganon?”

Pia Cayetano, Hontiveros clash over 2019 SEA Games facilities

Cayetano also reminded Hontiveros that 2019 SEA Games facilities would be used to train student-athletes upon establishing the National Academy for Sports.

“‘Yong kaisa-isang nagawa natin for them, binibigyan pa natin ng malisya. Kaya ‘yan ang mangyayari sa bansa natin, puro malisya tayo, puro panghuhusga,” Pia Cayetano said.

Hontiveros responded by saying she neither denied that the facilities were world-class nor downplaying Filipino athletes’ achievements to the country. She added her privilege speech focused only on holding people accountable for the possible corruption in its sports facilities’ construction.

“If the good colleague had caught most of my privilege speech, it probably would not have caused the good gentlelady as much distress…Maganda talaga ‘yong facilities,” Hontiveros said.

“Ang aking mga tanong na ni-raise ay walang pagbabawas sa pagbigay ng halaga natin sa ating mga atleta, hindi binabawi ang ating suporta sa education and athletic support,” she noted.

Pia Cayetano’s brother, a former senator and Speaker, Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, was the head of the committee, which organized the 2019 SEA Games.