MANILA, Philippines -- Seven members of the Philippine Olympic Committee's (POC) Executive Board doubled down on their demand for the financial report of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) on the expenses of last year's SEA Games.
The board members who issued their demand for the SEA Games financial statements were: POC chairman Steve Hontiveros, first vice president Jose Romasanta, second vice president Col. (ret.) Antonio Jeff Tamayo, treasurer Julian Camacho, auditor Jonne Go and board members Atty. Jesus Clint Aranas and Robert Mananquil.
"The Commission on Audit requires agencies and organizations who are recipients of government financial support to liquidate the funds within sixty (60) days after the completion of the project," the group said in a statement.
Following COA's rules on the liquidation of government financial support to organizations -- including PHISGOC -- the report should have been done by February 9.
The 30th SEA Games, which saw Team Philippines emerge as overall champions, concluded on December 11.
"It is incumbent upon PHISGOC to render an accounting of the SEA Games funds immediately," the group added.
The board members' statement comes a day after PHISGOC president and chief operating officer Ramon Suzara decried the "media stunt" of Aranas and PATAFA chief Philip Ella Juico, who revealed their intent to file charges against certain POC officials -- including POC president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino -- for the organizing committee's "failure to provide a financial statement on the SEA Games expenses."
"We would appreciate receiving POC's letter first, rather than hearing about their stunt in the media intended to undermine PHISGOC," said Suzara on Wednesday. "Kindly remind them that the POC and PSC are integral parts of PHISGOC, and their actions unnecessarily cast aspersions on the integrity of all these institutions."
"At any rate, rest assured that PHISGOC has already substantially liquidated said financial support received from PSC," he added. "To date, we are nearing completion of our submitted liquidation reports to PSC covering said financial support received by the Organizing Committee."
However, the seven board members claimed that they were only holding PHISGOC to the tripartite agreement that it had signed with the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on August 15, 2019.
Under the agreement, PHISGOC was mandated to manage and operate the 30th SEA Games. It also obligates PHISGOC to "submit to the PSC and the POC the financial reports and make available all records and documents related to the SEAG," the group said.
The board members believe that PHISGOC has been given enough extension as they have been waiting for the financial statements since February.
Thus, in a meeting last September 29, they approved the resolution adopting the motion of track and field chief Juico and Aranas, the president of World Archery Philippines, regarding the issue. The POC gave instructions to POC secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes to notify PHISGOC of the resolution, and gave it a deadline of October 10.
"Our group understands how alarmed the General Assembly is on this matter and the longer this takes casts doubt on how these funds were utilized," the group said.
They also stressed that the assertions made by Aranas and Juico "are sentiments unanimously shared among and expressed by the members of the POC General Assembly during the virtual POC General Assembly."
This, as POC president Tolentino has said that he is not rushing PHISGOC for its report. Tolentino also said he did not approve of the October 10 deadline.
With or without Tolentino's backing, the group is pushing through with its demand to PHISGOC and wants the audited financial statements submitted as soon as possible.
"We do not think that our call for transparency casts 'unnecessary aspersions,' at least on the integrity of the POC and the PSC," the group said, in a rebuttal to Suzara.
"It is disappointing that it has to come to the point of the General Assembly calling for transparency and accountability for PHISGOC to perform its obligations under the Tripartite Agreement," it added. "Frankly, PHISGOC is already in breach of the Tripartite Agreement."