VERA FILES FACT CHECK: OLD news on PH withdrawal from SEA Games hosting goes viral

A two-year-old news report on Thailand's offer to host the on-going Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines recently made the rounds on social media. Without providing proper context, netizens who are sharing it on Twitter and Facebook (FB) public groups are misleading the public.

On Nov. 25 and 26, several netizens shared an article from Investine.com, a Hongkong-based news portal featuring stories from the Southeast Asian region. The report, published in August 2017, was headlined “Thailand Offers Taking Over As SEA Games Host From Troubled Philippines.”

Netizens who shared the old report wrote a variety of captions. Some quoted only the first paragraph of the news report:

“Thailand sport officials said the country was ready to host the 2019 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games, the 30th edition of the major regional sports event, if the Philippines sticks to its decision to withdraw from hosting the biennial games.”

Others wrote:

  • “Yabang + Corruption = World Class kahihiyan (Arrogance + Corruption = World Class embarrassment)”
  • “ANO BA YAN!!! TO THE RESCUE NA ANG THAILAND! LAKING KAHIHIYAN TO.. PALIBHASA PUNONG PUNO NG CORRUPTION ANG HOSTING NG SEA GAMES 2019 (What is this!!! Thailand (has come) to the rescue! This is a big disgrace.. The 2019 SEA Games hosting is full of corruption!)...”
  • “Sampal sa mukha ni kawatano (Slap on the face of Cayetano)”

“Kawatano” is an invented portmanteau of the words “Cayetano,” surname of House Speaker and head of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Alan Peter, and “kawatan” which means thief in Filipino.

The recently-revived report also featured Thailand’s response to the Philippines’ July 2017 advisory that it was backing out as host of the regional sporting event due to the war in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

News reports in July 2017 quoted Philippine Sports Commission chair William “Butch” Ramirez as saying the funds earmarked for organizing the 30th edition of the SEA Games will be used for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city. Ramirez also cited as reason the lack of sports facilities and “issues” with the Philippine Olympic Committee, according to a UNTV News and Rescue segment.

Indonesia also offered to take on the hosting responsibilities, according to a news report.

In August 2017, or a month after Manila issued the advisory, Cayetano, then foreign affairs secretary, announced that the country will push through with hosting the 2019 regional meet.

Sharing this outdated report misleads readers who, based on their reactions, think is is a recent development. Its publication comes amid public criticism that the country was ill-prepared for the 2019 SEA Games following initial complaints from foreign and even local athletes about food, transport and accommodations.

The 2017 article was shared in at least 14 FB groups with POLITICAL FREEDOM SUPPORTERS and BOSES NG MALAYANG FILIPINO being the top traffic generators, reaching about 125,000 users.

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