President Duterte “angry “with reported mishandling of SEA Games preps, food for athletes, says spokesperson

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte waves at the members of the send-off party as he departs for Manila at the Gimhae Air Base in Busan, Republic of Korea on November 26, 2019. ARMAN BAYLON/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte is extremely displeased with the various snafus and inconveniences so far encountered and reported by both foreign and local athletes in the 30th Southeast Asian games due to the lack of foresight of SEA Games organizers.

This was according to his spokesperson Salvador Panelo who stressed that those “failures” could have been prevented had the SEA Games organizers made alternative plans.

Panelo said that the President, who learned of the mishandling of SEA Games preparations for the visiting foreign athletes when he was still in South Korea attending an ASEAN event, was getting angry.

Siyempre hindi gusto ng Presidente (Of course, the President does not like this),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said over state-run Radyo Pilipinas.

‘Yung [mga] palpak na ‘yun, madali sanang hindi mangyari, kayang-kayang gawan [ng paraan.] Kaya nagagalit si Presidente (Those failures shouldn’t have happened. They could have easily been prevented with various means. That is why the President is angry)” he said.

Panelo said that the SEA Games organizing committee should be more alert and responsive so these snafus would not happen.

Kailangan ‘wag silang (organizers) matutulog sa pansitan,” he said.

-Complaints from foreign athletes, press-

The snafus so far encountered by foreign and local athletes alike, as well as by the foreign press covering the games, ranged from delays in transportation, errors in hotel accommodation, inappropriate and insufficient food for athletes in some cases, unfinished work in some of the venues, among other things.

Some of the ASEAN countries participating in the games have already complained directly to the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) headed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Singapore had already written directly to PHISGOC asking to immediately act on the matter.

“We request for your urgent and immediate attention to these matters. While we try our best to be patient and understanding, we cannot make any compromise when our athletes are affected directly,” Singapore’s chef de mission Juliana Seow told PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara on Sunday, November 24.

“We cannot accept this level of service…. We had really tried to do this by ourselves and as more teams come, we really cannot be doing everything by ourselves,” Seow said in her letter published in The Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper.

There was also insufficient halal food for the ASEAN athletes in Manila hotels where some of the athletes had been billeted.

The Thailand Football Association, for instance, had complained about the insufficient food and water rations in Manila.

This has prompted FA President Gen. Somyot Poompanmoung to “provide more Thai food menu to athletes, and team staff coaches” until the end of the competition.

The complaint about the insufficient drinking water at the hotel rooms provided for athletes were, however, later resolved.

The Thailand Football Association said that only four bottles of drinking water were provided in a room of two athletes—two from the hotel management and two from the organizer — which it said were “not enough” for their needs.

A picture of the uncompleted press center at the Rizal Memorial Stadium was also published in “The New Straits Times” of Singapore along with an item titled: “Will this be the worst SEA Games organized?”

It said that the venues in Manila were the ones having problems, as those in Subic and Clark are better prepared.

The Athletes Village in Tarlac where the SEA Games athletes will eventually all be housed have chefs catering to the needs of all athletes, including sufficient provisions for halal food.

Workers walk past ASEAN members’ flags next to the Aquatic centre in New Clark City, in Capas town, Tarlac province north of Manila on November 26, 2019, days ahead of the opening ceremony of SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games). (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

Coaches from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar have reportedly initially complained about various matters including delays in transportation, traffic, bland food, lack of halal food in hotels among other things.

The Cambodian players, for instance, were stranded at the airport and had to wait for three hours for their transportation to their assigned hotels, and then had to wait for another eight hours as their hotel rooms had to be prepared, according to a Reuters report that appeared in the New Straits Times entitled, “Sleeping on the Floor – SEA Games off to horror-show start for soccer players”

The Philippines is host about 10,000 athletes from 11 countries starting on Saturday for the 30th SEA Games. The Philippine hosting will also have the most number of sports in the SEA Games history at 56.

This is however not the first time that the country had hosted the Games as it had hosted SEA Games three times before – in 2005, 1991 and 1981.