Duterte, Cayetano defend P50m-cauldron
Location: Manila, Philippines
Date Published: November 20, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte justified the P50-million cauldron that would be used for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, saying that its high price is due to the fact that it was the creation of a national artist.
The president made the statement after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon questioned the propriety of spending such an amount on a project that will only be used once when there were so many other worthy projects with long-term impact – like classrooms – that needed funding.
Owing to its design by Mañosa, the President claimed it was impossible to estimate what an "appropriate" cost would be since it was a "product of the mind."
"You cannot estimate how much nalugi ka (you lost) because it's the rendition of the mind of the creator. Kung 'yan singil niya sabihin niya 'wag mo bilhin kung ayaw mo. 'Yan ang presyo ko (If that is the price he is asking for, he will say don't get it if you don't like my price)," he said.
Duterte likened it to commissioning a painter who one "could not debate with" on the price of artwork since it was the artist's rendition.
"You impose what is big or small there, you begin to criticize the efforts of people there. Following the wishes of the person who made it and that person is valuable because he created something which you want to portray after," he said.
The P50-million cauldron to be used for a torch lighting ceremony at the 30th SEA games has been under the scrutiny of lawmakers at the Senate. Drilon questioned the large expense for the object which would only be used once, as he pointed out the funds could have been used to build 50 classrooms instead.
"I am not even talking about overpricing. I'm talking about propriety," Drilon said.
According to Drilon, the breakdown of costs for the cauldron is as follows:
- 4 million for the design of the Mañosa
- 4 million for the cost of the cauldron's foundation
- P32 million for the construction of the cauldron itself
Aside from the P50-million cauldron, the SEA Games' budget continues to face questions in Congress with P1.5 billion worth of funds not undergoing public bidding and impractical spending.
Like Duterte, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano defended the millions spent for the structure, saying it was a "work of art."
The Philippines’ SEA Games cauldron is “cheaper” than Singapore’s P62-million piece, said Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).
“Ang cauldron ay isang monumento. Isa itong simbolo. Isa itong work of art. Ito ay isang requirement sa lahat ng games because it symbolizes the games’ competition, spirit,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Senate budget hearings.
“Is it expensive? Yes... [But] It is not overpriced and it’s not excessive.” he said.
Cayetano said the cauldron was not just a large casserole, but a towering structure that would keep the SEA Games’ symbolic flame burning for 11 days.
The cauldron itself amounts to P7 million, but a P18-million mechanism is required to keep the flame lit for about 264 straight hours, the House Speaker said.
Another P17 million is allocated for the development of the monument’s site, he said.
“Whether or not nandun yung cauldron, aayusin yun kasi nandun yung coliseum,” he said, referring to the New Clark City Athletics Stadium and Aquatic Center in Capas Tarlac.
The government needs to spend another P5 million to fuel the contraption for 11 days, he said.
The country should not skimp on building monumental markers as these “enhance” and “add value” to areas of development,” he said, noting that flights to Clark have increased after it was marketed as the venue of the 2019 SEA Games.
The cauldron and other SEA Games facilities can also be used in the future when the Philippines hosts the Asian Games, he said.
“We’re ready to be audited,” Cayetano said.
“But let’s do the auditing after the games,” he said.