Taguig Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano, the lead organizer of the beleaguered Southeast Asian Games, today announced that admission to several competitions and the event’s closing ceremony will now be free to the public.
Cayetano told reporters in a presser that while admission is free, the public will still need to get tickets through their local governments or SM Tickets. The lawmaker said that the organizing committee will release at least 10,000 free tickets for competitions covering 56 sports. He added that the committee will announce a hotline that the public can call to secure these tickets.
However, free tickets will not be offered for sold-out games such as volleyball, football, and basketball.
Fans who already bought tickets will not be refunded, but organizers promised that they will get good seats and free food, like ice cream and donuts.
Prior to the announcement, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go had told the media that he had suggested making the events free to the public to attract larger crowds for the games.
Meanwhile, Cayetano also backpedaled from an allegation he made yesterday — without proof — that the media had been bribed by unknown parties to paint the SEA Games in a negative light. Cayetano had even said he was considering filing libel charges against these unnamed journalists, whom he accused of trying to smear his name.
Today he corrected himself, saying it’s actually some politicians who are behind this smear campaign, not the media.
“I’m not accusing anyone in the media of intentionally [spreading] fake news or sabotaging. What I’m saying is we we were all used” by the political groups, he told reporters at a separate media briefing today. He said that the organizing committee has traced the alleged false information flowing through the media to four groups “intentionally sabotaging the SEA Games.” Cayetano added that he and the committee would reveal these groups in due time.
“My plea to those groups is this: You can hate the Duterte administration, you can hate Alan Cayetano, but you can’t hate your own country,” he said.
Cayetano’s threat of filing libel charges against the media had been lambasted by a group of foreign journalists, who called it “totally unacceptable.”