Palace tells SEA Games organizers: Take criticisms to do better

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PHISGOC Chairman Alan Peter Cayetano and COO Ramon Suzara apologize to coaches of international football teams on November 23

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — Malacañang urged Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) officials to accept criticisms against the country's hosting in order to perform better.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday said the organizers of the biennial sporting event should be open to take negative comments on how ill-prepared the PHISGOC was, following reports of poor accommodation, food serving and issues with media accreditation.

"The critics have a point. There is indeed something wrong with the preparations... These should be accepted and considered in order to rectify the errors it has committed," he said in a statement.

President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman added, "While organizing multi-sport events has always been complex for host countries... PHISGOC should perform better services expected of them."

PHISGOC officials have resorted to blaming the media for the criticisms against the organizers. Its chairman, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, claimed majority of the negative issues are fake.

"Ang akin lang pakiusap, huwag niyong siraan ang sariling bansa, ang sarili niyong hosting. Bakit po? 95 percent ng lumabas na sinabi niyong gustong imbestigahan, hindi ba fake news?" he said on Thursday.

PHISGOC President Abraham Tolentino and COO Ramon Suzara asked the media to publish positive stories instead to boost the morale of the athletes.

Related: NUJP: Media not to blame for SEA Games woes

With the barrage of information, Panelo also asked the public to be more circumspect in reading news and social media posts. He also called out the media to avoid publishing unverified information. Media outlets who have published erroneous reports have issued apologies. 

The Office of the President will create a commission to investigate the irregularities in the SEA Games hosting will begin immediately after the games end on December 11, Panelo said.