Senate recalls BCDA budget over questions on SEA Games facilities

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon raises concerns over the new facilities turning into ‘monuments of non-use’ after the SEA Games are over.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) — The Senate recalled Thursday its approval of the proposed ₱15.5-billion budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for 2020 over questions on what would happen to newly-built facilities for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games after the regional sports meet is over.

This was upon the suggestion of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who failed to answer Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s questions on the facilities built for the SEA Games.

The new sports facilities worth ₱9.5 billion are under the BCDA, but Go was sponsoring the Philippine Sports Commission’s budget. Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara is the sponsor of the BCDA budget.

Drilon pressed the BCDA for answers on what it plans to do with to the new facilities as similar structures erected for other sports meets in China, Brazil and Greece deteriorated after the sporting events.

“I have seen a few sites of athletic meets and events all over the world. I have seen the Olympic Stadium in a number of countries, which today are just monuments of non-use. And these are assets which are, in effect, just in our books without any income being earned,” he said.

PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, through Go, said a portion of the New Clark City in Pampanga can be used by the Philippine High School for Sports when it is established.

Also through Go, BCDA President Vince Dizon said they plan to privatize New Clark City’s operations so it can fund the maintenance of the new SEA Games facilities, which will cost the government ₱150 million to ₱200 million a year.

Dizon said there are developers who have expressed interest in operating and maintaining the facilities, but added that he could not yet publicly disclose who they are.

But Drilon was not swayed.

“It would appear to me that we just built this, the money was available, bahala na si Batman pagkatapos [then we leave everything to chance,]” he said.

Senators agreed to tackle the BCDA budget again on Monday.

For his part, Dizon promised to brief Drilon on the developers interested in the upkeep of New Clark City and to provide him with a detailed plan on what to do next.

The facilities built for the SEA Games include an Athletes’ Village in New Clark City, which has a gym, a basketball court, leisure rooms, lounge areas and conference rooms and can accommodate up to 1,800 guests. A new track oval, athletics stadium and aquatics center were also built for the sports meet.