CLARK FREEPORT — Amid the fracas over the sports stadium cauldron and arrival rumpus involving foreign athletes over transport, hotels and food, there is also the embarrassment of the country’s hosting polio.
Some 1,000 athletes and officials from Singapore had to get polio vaccinations after they received a travel advisory from the Team Singapore chief medical officer on advising them to get their vaccinations before travelling to the Philippines.
Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chief Allen Peter Cayetano himself described this as “embarrassing.” The World Health Organization (WHO) said that worldwide, polio cases have decreased by over 99 percent since 1988, from an estimated more than 350,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017. In most countries, polio has vanished, but failure to eradicate
polio could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.
Four regions of the world are certified polio- free—the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Western Pacific. As of early this year, only Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan still had cases of polio which leads to lifelong paralysis of its victims.
And recently, the Philippines joined the three, following fears of parents over vaccinations amid the Dengvaxia anti-dengue fever controversy.
It was only last September that an outbreak of polio was declared in the Philippines.
The Department of Health and partners have started to work together on a comprehensive outbreak response, including mass polio immunization rounds starting last October.
Shielded by anti-polio shots, the Singaporean athletes have already arrived for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
It is not known whether the other foreign delegations had had their anti-polio shots.
Meantime, Cayetano said controversies being dug up over the funding for the SEA Games are also an embarrassment.
“Does it hurt the administration? Maybe a little. Does it hurt the country? Yes. Does it hurt the athletes? I hope not. It’s hurting our hosting of the SEA Games,” said Cayetano, who once had as consultant Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer Vince Dizon. BCDA has provided lands for the sports stadium and aquatic center for the SEA Games. The area is also the site of the controversial towering symbolic cauldron.
Reports said the Philippine government’s corporate counsels found questionable the P11-billion deal that the BCDA entered into with Malaysian firm MTD Capital Berhad to build the New Clark City’s sports facilities in Capas, Tarlac to be used for the games.
A contract review done by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel yielded questions on the joint venture agreement between BCDA and MTD Capital Berhad, an informed Rappler source said.
“Serious consideration should be given on the modality by which the sport facilities will be developed and funded,” the review said.
The 67-page joint venture agreement, which became effective February 22, 2018, stipulates that the Malaysian firm will earn at most P2.5 billion in a return-of-investment scheme. The BCDA and MTD Capital Berhad will have a 50-50 sharing scheme from the income of the sports facilities for 25 years.
The agreement was signed by Dizon and MTD Capital Berhad director Isaac David.
BCDA said, however, that the national government has opted to pay in full upon completion and acceptance of the sports facilities as approved and reflected in the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) passed by Congress.
BCDA said this means that upon full payment and complete turnover to BCDA, BCDA will receive 100 percent share of the revenues and no longer would be burdened by interest from amortizations. To date, BCDA has not made any payment to MTD.