MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) on Wednesday reiterated that it had nothing to do with the embattled Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) Foundation, Inc.
This, after the private body was accused of corruption leading President Rodrigo Duterte to say that he does not want PHISGOC to organize the SEA Games, instead preferring the government to do so.
"He (Duterte) said that he doesn’t want the foundation, gusto niya gobyerno. Sabi niya maraming korapsyon diyan sa private kaya nasisira yung mga diskarte ng andiyan, kaya gusto niya gobyerno," said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
In a statement, acting POC president Joey Romasanta said the formation of the PHISGOC Foundation was done without the approval of the POC executive board, which ultimately led to the resignation of Ricky Vargas – one of the eight original incorporators of PHISGOC – as POC president.
The PHISGOC Foundation was formed to organize the SEA Games, as well as other international games that the country would host in the future. It also aimed to receive, manage and disburse fund, monies and properties derived from sponsorship, donation, grant and subsidy and allocate it for the purposes of the corporation.
Aside from Vargas, also included as incorporators were former POC chairman Tom Carrasco, former POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio and former communications director Ed Picson as well as members of PHISGOC chairman Alan Peter Cayetano's inner circle -- Ramon Suzara, Monica Anne Mitra, Donaldo Caringal and Dexter Estacio.
However, the POC claims that the POC board members or PSC commissioners were not included in the core group of the PHISGOC – which goes against the original agreement with Cayetano. It was agreed upon that Cayetano will be the organizing committee chairman while PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez and Vargas will be his co-chairmen.
"PHISGOC has been existing without the recognition of the POC," said Romasanta. "Mr. (Jose) Cojuangco was ousted in February, then they incorporated PHISGOC in July of last year. 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," he explained. "That's why when we asked Mr. Vargas about it, all he did was to tender his irrevocable resignation. He didn’t shed light on his involvement."
"We’re still in the dark as to the activities and past dealings of PHISGOC Foundation."
Malacanang has given the POC executive board members an invitation to discuss the matter with Cayetano and former POC chairman Abraham Tolentino, but the meeting coincides with a crucial POC general assembly set Thursday at the Manila Golf Club.
"We're going to have a crucial general assembly meeting on Thursday and we can’t cancel it. It was the IOC and OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) who called the meeting that will pave the way for the election of a new POC president," said Romasanta.
"Our suggestion is to set the Malacanang meeting after the July 28 elections. At least by then, we already have a new POC president."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.