Juico calls for unity ahead of SEA Games, Malacañang clears Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines–Track and field chief Philip Ella Juico called for “a period of peace” that will allow sports officials to focus on the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host.
Juico’s plea on Tuesday, which came two days before the Philippine Olympic Committee a crucial extraordinary general assembly on Thursday, was in reference to the controversies hounding the sports community just over four months before the country hosts the SEA Games.
“The most immediate concern is to ensure the success of the SEA Games, both from the staging point of view and performance point of view,’’ Juico told the Inquirer.
The POC is currently facing a leadership vacuum, which the meeting on Thursday hopes to address. Apart from that, Malacañang has stripped the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation of its mandate to run the biennial meet.
President Duterte has said that the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission will be the de facto organizers of the SEA Games. In a report last June 21, the Inquirer, citing a government source, reported that the President ordered “PSC Chairman [Butch Ramirez] to stay on top of the [SEA Games] preparations” because “the government is accountable for money that will be spent.”
As this developed, Malacañang cleared Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of alleged corruption as chair of the Phisgoc Foundation.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo added that President Duterte’s trust in Cayetano, who was endorsed as House Speaker, has not been lessened at all.
“No, because Cayetano just entered recently. He was put [in Phisgoc] because of those allegations,” Panelo said in a press briefing.
The POC general assembly will ratify the appointment of former Commission on Election commissioner Rene Sarmiento as chairman of the independent election committee that will man the polls on July 28.
Juico, a former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, is expected to also formally disclose his intentions of running as POC president on Thursday. He will be up against Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino, the resigned POC chairman.
“We need a period of peace and stability within the next six months. Not only for the sake of the athletes and Philippine sports, but for love of country,’’ said Juico.
“This may sound like a motherhood statement, but it all boils down to that,’’ added the member of the International Association of Athletic Federations’ working group for governance, integrity and reform.
Juico’s running mate as chairman is handball president Steve Hontiveros while Clint Aranas of archery and Lani Velasco of swimming will try their luck as board members.
“I have been watching ever since the trouble (in the POC) started. I have never gotten involved in any of these controversies. We lack peace and harmony,’’ said Juico, the first Filipino official of the IAAF.
“Let’s focus on the SEA Games first and deal with the problems within the POC later. For now, let’s all pretend that we all love each other. Let’s bury the hatchet, but not on each others’ back,’’ he added.
Joining Sarmiento in the three-man “elecom’’ is former NCAA commissioner Fr. Vic Calvo OP from Letran as member along with a representative from the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center chaired by lawyer Victor Lazatin.
The composition of the election committee will be ratified by the GA in the meeting set at the Kamagong room of the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City in the presence of Narinder Dhruv Batra as representative of both the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia.
Earlier on Monday, the Palace said corruptions allegations in the hosting of the 30th SEA Games may have prompted President Duterte to task the government to host the games.
Panelo said it was possible that the President has heard of allegations of corruption in the handling of the SEA Games by the privately-formed Phisgoc.
Last week, Mr. Duterte said he will not allow the Phisgoc to handle the hosting of the SEA Games from November 30 to December 10 this year.
The Phisgoc sought P 7.5 billion from the government to fund the SEA Games, but the national budget only allocated P 5 billion and included it in the PSC’s budget.
Concerns were raised over the Phisgoc’s allegedly overpriced deals to supply uniform and training gears, which were eventually voided as only the POC can enter into contracts related to the hosting of the SEA Games.
Panelo said he has yet to talk to Cayetano over the developments and the President’s order.
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