An imperiled sports event

"Why not grow a conscience?"


Will Philippine sports ever recover lost glory? Yes and no.

Yes, if it is manages to pull off the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games scheduled in November this year with flying colors and our athletes end up with a respectable finish.  

And no, if politics again rears its ugly head in Philippine sports.

Insiders believe that Peping Cojuangco, whose 13-year lackluster performance as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee led to the decline of Philippine sports, just won’t stop until he takes total control of the forthcoming Games. He has found an ally, former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Philip “Popoy” Juico,  the current president of the Philippine Track and Field Association. Juico’s name is familiar not only in the field of sports, because he used to be the late President Cory Aquino’s agrarian reform secretary who got involved in the Garchitorena land scam. 

They have floated reports that President Duterte supposedly withdrew his support to the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizational Committee chaired by Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. 

Taking a phrase uttered by  President Duterte here, and inserting a word there, they made it appear that the Chief Executive said that PHISGOC is not authorized to oversee the preparations for the hosting of the 30thSEA Games. 

But the truth is that the misleading reports appear to be part of one big, well-funded demolition job against Cayetano and PHISGOC. 

Four months before the start of the SEA Games here, Cojuangco et al. are still trying in vain to regain control of the POC, and in the process, get their hands on the billions of pesos allocated for the biennial sports event. 

Cojuangco has been questioning, through his minions, the alleged “overpricing” of uniforms and training gear of athletes for this year’s event in an attempt to  put Cayetano, who as lawmaker has exposed and investigated numerous corruption scams, in a bad light.

Cojuangco wants the public to forget that President Duterte has issued an order—Memorandum Circular No. 56—directing all government agencies, and even government-owned-and-controlled corporations, to extend their full support to the Philippine SEA Games Oganizational Committee Foundation  Inc. in the “preparation, organization and holding of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.” 

The Memorandum Circular issued last Jan. 15 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea  by authority of the President states that PHISGOC Inc., a “non-stock, non-profit organization” was “created to oversee the preparations and execution of the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th SEA Games in 2019.” 

Aren’t the President’s orders clear? 

We should also remember that President Duterte approved the additional funding of P1 billion for the SEA Games upon the request of Cayetano. 

Cayetano presented before the President during a Cabinet meeting last May the progress of the preparations for the SEA Games, including the construction of major infrastructure facilities where the events will be held,  such as the Athletics Stadium, Aquatics Center and the Athletics Village. Bases Conversion Development Authority president-CEO Vince Dizon and Executive Board member and PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara were also there to brief the President who, after the presentation, approved the P1 billion funding. 

“The President agreed to augment the current budget of the SEA Games because he understood the importance of the SEA games to Filipino athletes and its long-term benefits to the tourism and economic sectors in the country,” Cayetano said following the approval of the P1 billion augmentation fund. 

This P1-billion fund will supplement the budget approved by Congress for the preparations for, and conduct of, the SEA Games. The original budget proposed for the international sports event was P7.5 billion, which the Congress trimmed to P5 billion.

It was also agreed upon during the Cabinet meeting that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Procurement Service will be tapped to help facilitate the procurement process to allow the PSC conduct a faster and more efficient procurement of goods, supplies, sports equipment and service contractors that will cater to the needs of the SEA Games.

This setup would ensure that with the DBM as procuring entity, every centavo of the government’s funds would be well accounted for and would go to where it should go: The preparations for the Games and its hosting, and not to private pockets.

The country has only four months to complete its preparations for the SEA Games and mount this grand event. Cayetano is right: muddling the issues, rather than working together to ensure that the Philippines gets to host one of the most memorable SEA Games in history, will only tarnish the country’s image before the international sports community and leave our athletes in dire straits.  

Cojuangco et al should finally face the fact that real change has come to Philippine sports. Why not grow a conscience and accept the reality that the old way of doing things at the POC just won’t work now?

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Topics: Philippine Olympic Committee , Philippine Sports Commission , SEA Games , Department of Budget and Management , Rodrigo Duterte
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