MANILA, Philippines – The back-and-forth regarding the Philippines' hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games continues.
Shortly after Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano wrapped up a press conference where he addressed questions surrounding the issue, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) quickly responded.
"The Phisgoc Foundation, Inc. has no control over the staging of the 30th Southeast Asian Games," according to the POC statement.
POC president Joey Romasanta – who took over the post following the abrupt resignation of Ricky Vargas – declared that they are the franchise-holder of the SEA Games, and is thus the "rightful body to organize the prestigious biennial meet set from November 30 to December 15."
Romasanta claimed that all SEA Games-related decisions should"emanate from the POC, since it is "empowered by the SEA Games Federation Council, the Olympic Council of Asia, and the International Olympic Committee to stage major international tournaments in the country."
The POC and the PHISGOC have had their differences regarding who should organize the SEA Games.
Former POC president Peping Cojuangco had assigned Cayetano to be the chairman of an ad hoc committee that will run the SEA Games. That committee was incorporated into a foundation when Vargas replaced Cojuangco as POC president, with Vargas, POC secretary-general Patrick Gregorio, and POC communications director Ed Picson representing the POC.
The POC has repeatedly stressed that it does not recognize the Phisgoc Foundation, claiming it to be a "totally different body than the original PHISGOC they had formed."
Cayetano, however, claimed that this was not the case.
"Nililito nila ang issue. They are trying to make it appear that there are two bodies… There's only one organizing committee, and there's only one juridical entity, which is PHISGOC," he said.
Furthermore, Cayetano disputes Romasanta's assertion that the POC holds the franchise rights to the SEA Games.
"SEA Games Federation ang may-ari nito," he said. "Hindi ito pagma-may-ari ng IOC or POC. Under the rules ng SEA Games, may role ang POC – sila ang mamimili ng organizing committee. May napili sila, which is PHISGOC."
"Walang bawian 'yan," he said.
According to the POC's statement, the Phisgoc Foundation, with Vargas at the helm, had taken over the functions of the POC, including the selection of the Games' official mascot, logo and theme. It also apparently entered into deals with suppliers and contractors without board approval of the POC.
It also aimed to host "future international competitions to be hosted by the Philippines," based on its paper of incorporation.
POC as franchise-holder
Now that he has assumed the POC presidency, Romasanta is asserting that the local Olympic movement should be in charge of the hosting.
"We're not assuming something that's not ours," he said. "We are the franchise-holder of the Southeast Asian Games here in the country so we have all the rights to organize it in accordance to the mandate given to us by the Southeast Asia Games Federation Council."
Most members of Phisgoc Foundation's team of organizers are not members of the POC, according to the statement. They are in-charge of various committees like venues, transportation, accommodation, ceremonies, volunteer program, publicity and promotions, marketing, information technology and overall organization of the sports.
Romasanta said the national sports associations (NSAs) should be on top of organizing their respective sports because they would be held accountable to their respective international federations if something happens.
"You can't expect a non-volleyball person to be on top of running volleyball events," he said. "That's why the NSAs should be on top of organizing their respective sports. They know fully well how their respective sports should be properly ran."
"Because if something happens in the staging of the Games, these NSAs would be held accountable by their respective international federations – not the Phisgoc," he added.
Cayetano, in a statement of his own, said that talks of any other party taking over the organization of the SEA Games "unnecessarily create a cloud of instability and uncertainty, causing extreme apprehension on the part of the Games' sponsors and private sector partners."
He stressed that, "under the express instructions of President Duterte, PHISGOC remains as the only official organizing committee of the 30th SEA Games."
"PHISGOC is committed to deliver the biggest, best-hosted, and most viewed SEA Games in history. We do this for the country and for the Filipino people."
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