Honoring an international commitment and the interest of the youths not only in Southeast Asia but the whole of Asia and the world as well are the primary reasons why the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) should push through with the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2019.
“The holding of the SEA Games here two years from now was offered to us by the SEA Games Federation of which the Philippines is a member. I accepted it in behalf of the POC and the country and even informed President Rodrigo Duterte of our acceptance,” POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco told the Manila Times in a telephone interview last Saturday.
“The President was very appreciative about it especially when I suggested that the Games be held in Mindanao, in Davao in particular. Being a first in the history of the Games and in Mindanao for that matter, my reason for suggesting was to showcase to the world what kind of place Mindanao is and what kind of people Mindanaoans are,” Cojuangco related.
“Of course the conflict in Marawi City hasn’t erupted yet when the President and myself talked. President Duterte readily and gladly accepted the idea, realizing, perhaps, that since anyone can remember, Mindanao and its people haven’t been given good publicity outside the country,” the POC top honcho continued.
The younger brother of the late President Cory Aquino stressed that the time finally has, indeed, come “for all of us to erase the stigma of the decades-long wrong impression heaped on Mindanao and our Muslim brothers by the outside world.”
As a member of the SEA Games Federation, the POC, Cojuangco added, is doing everything possible that the Games are held on this shore but “without compromising the wish of our Chief Executive to whom we are appealing for reconsideration the government’s to withdraw its support to the undertaking.”
“Of course, we understand the problem the government is confronting in the on-going rage going on between the government troops and he rebels, so that whatever decision President Duterte makes, we will abide,” the former Tarlac congressman vowed.
“But as leaders of sports in this country, we in the POC would also like to emphasize our mandate not to deprive our athletes not only here in this country but in Asia as member of the Olympic Council of Asia and the world as well, the Philippines being a member too, of the International Olympic movement of the chance to compete with the best in he region” he reasoned out.
“Dalawang taon pa naman bago dumating and 2019. Si Pangulong Duterte ay nangangakong tatapusin ang problema sa Marawi City bago matapos ang taong ito. Kami rin sa POC ay naniniwala na matatapos na ito. Bakit naman ang mga tao niya mismo ay hindi naniniwalang magagawa niya ito? Cojuangco wanted to know. “Aren’t they underestimating the capabilities of the government?
“They said hosting the Games would entail big amount of money with competition facilities yet to be constructed, especially if the Games will be held in Mindanao. Ang sabi ko naman, eh di huwag nating gawin sa Mindanao,” he exclaimed.
“Gawin natin sa Cenral Luzon. Subic in Zambales, Pampanga where some friends of mine are willing to put up a sports complex na kaya nilang gastusan,” he assured. “In Bulacan, there’s this Iglesia Ni Cristo-owned Philippine Arena na may indoor complex that can accommodate more than 50,000 spectators, the biggest the whole of Asia,
“Kumpleto na ito at wala nang ipagagawa. May state of the art track oval, swimming pool at multi-purpose gyms. And I’m sure papayag ang mga may-ari na ipahiram sa atin ito para sa national undertaking like hosting the SEA Games.
“Just imagine what can the hosting of the SEA Games can do to our economy, not only to the Games venues but the whole country as well,” he surmised.
“You know what? Common sense lang naman ang dapat nating gamitin at magagawa natin ang lahat ng gusto nating gawin. Ang hirap sa iba nating lider, hindi ginagamit ang utak. Puro daldal lamang,” Cojuangco said.