SEA Games: Critics in the Philippines express anger over $1 million cauldron

MANILA – A cauldron costing more than S$1 million that will hold the SEA Games flame has drawn anger in the Philippines, sparking comparisons to the excesses that epitomised the Marcos era.

Critics in the Philippines, which is hosting the South-east Asian Games in and around Manila from Nov 30 to Dec 11, have said the 50 million pesos (S$1.34 million) would have been better spent helping the nation’s children and poor.

The 50-metre cauldron has been built at the main stadium in Clark, north of Manila, for the regional Games.

“Do you realise that at one million (pesos) per classroom, we can construct 50 classrooms? In other words, we did away with 50 classrooms in exchange for one ‘kaldero’,” said lawmaker Franklin Drilon, using the Filipino word for a cooking pot.

An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, lawmaker Joey Salceda, said that while “the cost looks reasonable, it comes across as Imeldific and signals grandiosity”.

“Imeldific” is a term born of the worst excesses of the reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, when billions disappeared from state coffers.

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