A video clip shared by a local reporter showing a cubicle with two toilets at a women’s bathroom in one of the venues of the 30th Southeast Asian Games gained some uproar online as an example of what has been perceived as a lack of preparation for the biennial international meet.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) later tried to disprove it. The agency shared an edited photo of two cubicles and juxtaposed it with a screenshot of the video.
Angel Movido, a reporter from ABS-CBN, initially shared the video on November 25. She tweeted that she took it at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
When the video on the twin toilets blew up, the PSC shared its version of the bathroom.
“Photo on the left was taken while the facility was under renovation. Photo on the right is actual photo taken today, November 27 of the said comfort room at Ninoy Aquino Stadium,” the agency said on November 27.
Photo on the left was taken while the facility was under renovation.Photo on the right is actual photo taken today, November 27 of the said comfort room at Ninoy Aquino Stadium.#PSCisSportsPositive
Movido afterward corrected her earlier tweet, saying that the venue where she took the video was at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, which is part of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Malate, Manila.
The Ninoy Aquino Stadium is the official venue for the taekwondo and weightlifting competitions of the SEA games.
The two-toilet cubicle was also supposed to be for persons with disabilities.
“The cubicle where the two toilets were found, is larger and originally intended for PWDs, according to Engr. Manny Salazar. Salazar assured measures are being done to make the toilets suitable for public use,” Movido said.
Erratum: The twin toilet bowls are located inside the women's comfort room of the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, one of the facilities found in the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC). The Ninoy Aquino Stadium is the official venue for the SEA Games' Taekwondo and Weightlifting events.
— Angel Movido (@angelmovido) November 27, 2019
Not as convincing
Certain details of PSC’s post to debunk the cubicle without dividers did not hold up for some Filipinos.
A Reddit user alleged that the agency might not be showing the same part or bathroom as seen in the video.
Reddit user u/gradenko_2000 noticed two key differences.
- The toilet seat on the right side is still plastic-wrapped when the one in the clip has none given that it was taken at an earlier time.
- There’s a divider to the right of that same toilet when the one in the clip has none given that it is located at the far end of the room.
The user further commented:
“There wasn’t enough space to insert another cubicle between the right-hand toilet and the marble wall, and it doesn’t make sense to put in a divider if it’s just bare wall right after the divider anyway (and yet the shadows underneath the divider suggest there’s still more room beyond the divider).”
It should be noted that PSC admitted on its post that the renovations at RSMC were still not finished on the day the football tournaments were held.
On media’s job
Local and international journalists were the first who shared photos and videos of the mishaps they had experienced since November 24.
Social media immediately caught up and some even likened these incidents to the botched Fyre Festival in The Bahamas in 2017.
When these eventually got reported by news organizations, officials from the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee decried that the media is only focusing on the shortcomings of the SEA games.
“This is very normal, all of us, athletes and you media, you’ve been to the Games… we all encounter such problems from the airport to the hotel. So I’m appealing to all of you to be on positive mode,” PHISGOC CEO Ramon Suzara said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines responded that reporting events as they are based on verifiable facts is the sole responsibility of the press.
“The NUJP wishes to remind Mr. Suzara that the duty of the press has always been to report things as they are, based on verifiable facts, and not to pander to anyone’s perception of what is, or should be. Attempting to dictate how the media should report the news has no place in a democracy,” its statement read.
The NUJP also denounced the officials putting the fault of the hosting woes at the journalists.
“It becomes ridiculously unacceptable when the officials responsible for the disaster resort to bashing media as well as if the reports on their shortcomings were to blame for the disaster,” it said.