MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday assured that their committee remains ready to deliver a superb hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
This, after a recent upheaval in the leadership of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) that also put a spotlight on the PHISGOC.
Ricky Vargas resigned as president of the POC, replaced by Joey Romasanta. One reason for his resignation was his involvement in the Phisgoc Foundation, an entity that is not recognized by the POC Board, as it is not the same ad hoc committee that was initially approved by the board.
However, Cayetano explained in a press conference on Thursday that the PHISGOC and the Phisgoc Committee are not separate entities.
"Nililito nila ang issue," said Cayetano. "They are trying to make it appear that there are two bodies, that the money won't be scrutinized, or the contracts won't be scrutinized, the money won't be held accountable."
"Mali lahat 'yun," he stressed. "There's only one organizing committee, and there's only one juridical entity, which is PHISGOC."
The PHISGOC was incorporated and registered, said Cayetano, to give it a legal entity. "Kung hindi po namin ni-register, we cannot sign contracts with sponsors, venues… Walang legal personality," he explained. "It has to have a juridical personality."
In a statement, Cayetano further assured that the PHISGOC "remains as the only official organizing committee of the 30th SEA Games."
"The mandate of PHISGOC to organize the Philippines' hosting of the 30th SEA Games is vested by law and imbued with public interest," according to the statement. "It's designation as the official organizing committee cannot be revoked by any public party."
"Verily, all talks about any other party taking over the organization of the Games unnecessarily create a cloud of instability and uncertainty, causing extreme apprehension on the part of the Games' sponsors and private sector partners," it added.
As the official organizing committee, PHISGOC stressed its commitment to delivering "the biggest, best-hosted, and most-viewed SEA Games in history."
"We do this for the country and for the Filipino people."
Cayetano also said that PHISGOC "cannot stand on its own," as he expressed his desire to have a good working relationship with the Philippine Sports Commission and the POC. Both organizations are "integral and indispensable components of the organizing committee," as the PSC chairman and the POC president are part of the PHISGOC Executive Committee as vice chairmen.
PSC chairman Butch Ramirez on Thursday already said that they are "resolute on our purpose to guide and support Team Philippines, no matter what."
"Very clear ang statement ng PSC, ni Chairman Butch," said Cayetano. "We're hoping na maganda ang response ng POC."
Cayetano pointed out that he had a good working relationship with former POC president Peping Cojuangco as well as Vargas. He hopes to have the same relationship with acting POC president Romasanta.
Cayetano encouraged the other stakeholders in Philippine sports to sit down with him and discuss the issues hounding the hosting of the SEA Games.
"Regardless of who's right or who's wrong here, ang nagsa-suffer ay 'yung athletes," he said. "So 'yun naman ang point ko – the longer these issues are dragged out, 'yung image ng bansa at 'yung hosting natin (ang naa-apektuhan)."
"The world is watching because this is an industry, so we have to be careful of coming out with accusations, and how these accusations are addressed. We are willing to address it. But uulit-ulitin mo lang sa public, uulit-ulitin mo lang sa media, does not solve the issue."
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