Monday, November 25, 2019

Constructing the cauldron was not excessive

Many online have aired their disbelief at the price tag, and feel that the money could have been spent by the government on other needs, such as public school classrooms and further funding for local athletes.

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.

Senator Franklin Drilon, at a Senate hearing on Monday, November 18, also said as much.

The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) initially requested P9.5 billion for the hosting of the games, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved P7.5 billion. The Phisgoc itself raised the P1.5 billion through sponsorship.

For many Filipino netizens, it would not be on a gigantic kaldero (cauldron) for the torch-lighting ceremony of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) this December. However, the actual kaldero has already been built, and now sits in wait at the New Clark City in Tarlac.

For the design, the national artist was paid P4.4 million, although government seems to misrepresent that fact by insistently pointing out that the monument’s cost was largely because it is a work of art. While it is a work of art, there really isn’t much information on the structural integrity of this concrete torch and as to how faithful it is to Mañosa’s design. The artist earned his name for incorporating indigenous materials into modern design, and that much we may find wanting in the final version that Cayetano wants to sell.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay) himself said the cost was “imeldific,” and if he understood his adjective, he’d just pointed out the obscenity of the spending. Does the P50 million budget also cover the tower on which the cauldron was mounted or does it only cover the cauldron itself and its fuel contraptions?

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."

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