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Palace ‘strongly’ suggests students’ free access to SEA Games

MANILA —Malacañang on Thursday “strongly” urged the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) to allow students watch the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for free.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the call to attract more crowds who will cheer for all Filipino athletes competing in this year’s SEA Games.

Panelo said it would also be a “happy compromise” to grant 50 percent discount on tickets among students, if Phisgoc could not heed calls for a free admission to SEA Games’ competitions that will be held in several areas in the country from November 30 to December 11.

“Kung ako ang tatanungin mo personally, they should allow students na [manuod ng] libre. Or kung hindi kaya ng libre, 50 percent discount. Happy compromise. (If you would ask me personally, they should allow students to watch for free. Or if they can’t allow free admission, give at least 50 percent discount. It’s a happy compromise),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

“Sina-suggest natin ‘yun sa organizers. We strongly suggest that bigyan nila ng either libre o 50 percent [discount] yung mga estudyante (We suggest that to organizers. We strongly suggest that they grant students either free admission or 50 percent discount on tickets),” Panelo added.

On Wednesday, Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella asked President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the public to have an open access to all SEA Games’ sports events to maximize the country’s home court advantage.

Around 8,750 athletes from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Singapore, and Vietnam will compete in 56 sports.

The Philippines will field 1,085 athletes as part of its efforts to improve its sixth place in the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Puentevilla, former Philippine Olympic Committee chair and Philippine Sports commissioner, said the multi-billion peso worth of funding earmarked for the country’s hosting of the regional sports meet should be enough to subsidize the tickets of the games.

Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) on Thursday also urged Duterte to waive entrance fees for events in several venues including Metro Manila, particularly for ordinary workers and their families who cannot afford the entire cost of watching the games.

ALU-TUCP spokesperson Allan Tanjusay said allowing Filipinos to watch the games would also boost the Filipino athletes’ confidence to perform well because of the support from their countrymen.

The formal opening of the 2019 SEA Games at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan is expected to draw a packed crowd from 11 participating nations.

Tickets for the opening rites range from PHP1,000 to PHP12,000.

Meanwhile, general admission tickets to competitions that will be held in other venues are sold for as low as PHP50.

The biennial games will take place at the newly-built New Clark City Sports Hub in Capas, Tarlac; Subic, Zambales; Laguna; Batangas; Tagaytay; Imus; and Metro Manila at the newly-renovated Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

Panelo said his proposal excludes employed Filipinos.

“‘Yung may mga sweldo naman ay dapat talagang mag-bayad (Those who are earning money should pay),” he said.

Panelo said the executive branch will also look into the proposed suspension of classes in Metro Manila for the duration of the 30th SEA Games.

The Palace official said the basis for the proposed class suspensions needs to be explained first.

His statement came after the Department of Interior and Local Government, as well as the Philippine National Police, favored the suspension of classes to ease the traffic congestion in the Philippine capital.

“Siguro (Perhaps), they have studied that. If they are proposing that, there must be some good reasons for that,” he said.

“We'll have to know the reasons why, the whys and the wherefores. I don't know how many will be using the streets of Manila for that purpose. They have to explain to us why,” Panelo added. (PNA)

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