New POC president looks to get SEA Games preps back on track

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2019 04:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- A day after Ricky Vargas stepped down as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), his successor, Joey Romasanta, vowed that no second would be wasted in making sure that the country's hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games will get back on track.

Romasanta announced on Wednesday that he has instructed former POC secretary general Steve Hontiveros to call for an emergency SEA Games Federation Council meeting to brief the 10 other member countries on the latest developments in the Philippine preparations.

He said that they need to find a solution on how they can move on from this turn of events, as the SEA Games preparation was greatly mismanaged due to a messy legal issue that entangled the earlier buildup.

It was because the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, Inc., headed by Taguig Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, operates a team without board approval from the POC. 

This issue had led to Vargas's resignation on Tuesday.

Although Cayetano was tasked to organize the country's hosting of the SEA Games, his organizing body was supposed to function as a mere ad hoc committee under the POC, not as a foundation that possesses a legal personality to enter into contracts with sponsors and suppliers.

It was supposed to be called Phisgoc, not Phisgoc Foundation.

Since the Phisgoc Foundation operates without POC board approval, eight of the 13 board members questioned its authority to run the SEA Games, including the creation of the SEA Games logo, mascot, hymn and motto.

There were also questions about the venues tapped by the Phisgoc Foundation, as it decided to move some sports away from the main hub at the New Clark City in Tarlac. The marketing campaign, transportation and volunteer program of the Phisgoc Foundation are also being probed.

So far, the biggest question on the Philippines status as officially ready for the SEA Games is the production of technical handbook that will be followed by the participating countries.

The Phisgoc Foundation does not have it, putting national sports association officials and their foreign counterparts in the dark as to how the event will be ran.

NSA officials said they already submitted their technical guidelines as early as January.

Romasanta said he would ensure that everything is in order very soon, even as he admitted that "a lot of work still needs to be done."

"We have to regroup and sync everything together not just on the part of the POC, but also on the part of the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission), the SEA Games Federation Council, and our national government," said Romasanta.

"Everybody has to be aligned and be on the same page. We have to find a solution in every problem," he added.

One of the solutions being looked at is moving the SEA Games from November to the first quarter of next year. The POC is also looking to reduce the number of events, as hosting 56 sports would be challenging especially with only five months left to prepare.

"We are ready to pick up the pieces," said Romasanta.

The emergency meeting would be held as soon as first POC general assembly is done on June 25 at the Government Service Insurance System gymnasium.

Romasanta already paid a courtesy call to PSC chairman William Butch Ramirez.

A prominent member of the POC board in lawyer Clint Aranas already phoned Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to apprise him on the sudden change of POC leadership.

"We are moving as fast as we can," said Romasanta. 

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