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Drilon puzzed: Why is P7.5B SEA Games fund in DFA budget?

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Why is the budget for hosting a regional sports tournament in the Department of Foreign Affairs?

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Thursday he was puzzled about why some P7.5 billion budget supposedly for the Philippines’ hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games is “mysteriously” lodged in the DFA.

Drilon questioned the policy behind as promotion of sports is not part of the mandate of the DFA.

“The mandate of DFA has nothing to do with sports. This is the first time I hear that the DFA is having a P7.5-B for sports program,” he said.

The budget in question is supposedly for the preparation for SEA Games, which the country is hosting next year. The budget will be used for the following purposes: sports (P1.3 billion), venues (P1.3 billion), game services (P1.5 billion) venues, marketing and PR (P525 million), ceremonies (P450 million), and athletes’ village operation (P368 million), among others.

The Senate committee on finance chair, Senator Loren Legarda, said that it was former Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano who requested that it be lodged under the DFA budget.

However, Legarda confirmed that Cayetano’s successor, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, has just asked the committee to transfer the P7.5 billion funds to another agency.

This prompted Drilon to ask the committee to transfer the P7.5 billion budget to the Philippine Sports Commission, to which Legarda agreed.

Nevertheless, Drilon asked that caution be exercised in crafting the budget, saying that “funds cannot just be moved on the basis of the personal preferences of the head of the agency.”

“If such a huge amount of funds can be misallocated in an agency where the activity has nothing to do with its mandate, I hope that does not prompt us to comb over every item in the budget,” Drilon warned.