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Vital Malacañang meeting up for PSC, Phisgoc

FILE -Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Executive Board chairman (front row, 8th from right), hosted a dinner for the top officials and members of the SEA Games Federation night at the Bonifacio Global City.

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) will meet in Malacañang to clarify President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision on the management of the country’s hosting of the biennial meet.

Among the concerns that will be raised, Inquirer sources said on Wednesday, will be what to do with a nervous private sector that has committed at least P250 million in sponsorships and who exactly will be in charge of the organization if the Phisgoc is effectively decommissioned.

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“There is no transition plan yet,” said a government source. “Everything will depend on the meeting at Malacañang [on Thursday] because that’s when everything could be clarified.”

“Tomorrow’s meeting will be an important guidance for us. I am waiting for the direction of the President (Duterte),” said PSC Chair Butch Ramirez.

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Expected to sit at the meeting are Executive Sec. Salvador Medialdea, Ramirez and Phisgoc officials Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and chief operating officer Ramon Suzara.

President Duterte on Monday elbowed the Phisgoc out of the SEA Games organization picture, saying the PSC—as the government’s sporting arm responsible for the disbursement of funds—and the POC should handle preparations for the country’s hosting of the event.

But with just four months left before the SEA Games, a change of leadership and direction could prove counter-productive.

On Wednesday, Suzara said “all this talk about another body taking over the organization of the Games at this late period has not only caused apprehension among our athletes, but among our sponsors and private sector partners as well.”

(Disclosure: The Inquirer Group of Companies has signed up as an official media partner of the SEA Games).

The POC, meanwhile, continued a hands-off approach on the Phisgoc, with acting president Joey Romasanta saying the Olympic body has “nothing to do with Phisgoc,” and that the organization “was [created] without POC executive board approval.”

“Phisgoc has been existing without the recognition of the POC,” said Romasanta, a long-time right-hand man of former POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, in a statement sent to media offices. “We only found out its existence in March. So it means that from July last year to March this year, they have been operating without board approval from the POC executive council.”

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Suzara and Cayetano, however, have both claimed it was Cojuangco and Romasanta who suggested that the Phisgoc be incorporated.

President Duterte has hinted that corruption is the reason he suggested a change of leadership in the SEA Games organization, a charge Phisgoc hopes to clarify in the Malacañang meeting.

Suzara said Phisgoc “has complied with all the directives issued by President Duterte on the conduct of the biennial sports competition… and has put in place safeguards to ensure that finds for the event are all accounted for and properly spent.”

The SEA Games has a working budget of around P6 billion, and Suzara said that budget is under the control of the PSC.

“All government funds are duly accounted for, and are being disbursed in accordance with government procurement procedures performed either by the PSC or the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” Suzara said in a statement.

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TAGS: Phigsoc, POC, President Duterte, PSC, SEA Games, Southeast Asian Games, Sports
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