No, the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) two years from now is not dead yet.
This, Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission chair William “Butch” Ramirez assured Thursday night during the send off ceremony for the national contingent to the 29th edition of the biennial conclave held at the World Trade Center compound in Pasay City.
An appeal for reconsideration on an earlier decision rejecting the offer of the SEA Games Federation for the country as site of the 11-nation event here in lieu of Brunei, which begged off, is still on the desk of President Rodrigo Duterte awaiting his decision, Cojuangco and Ramirez reasoned out.
Both claimed there is strong indication that the Chief Executive, who first approved the idea when broached by Cojuangco following his acceptance of the offer, might have a change of heart and decide to push through with the hosting the country had experience thrice from the time the Philippines was admitted to the SEA Games Federation fold 40 years ago.
Manila had the first chance as venue for Games in 1981 when the Filipinos finest athletes climbed from seventh overall in 1977 and fourth in 1979. The Filipinos continued their rise from the rubbles finishing second in the “Manila Miracle of ‘91” 10 years later the eventually overall champions in 2005.
Operating on a miniscule budget of mere P350 million in 2005, compared to the $400 million Vietnam spent in staging the meet in 2003, the Philippines earned a certificate of recognition from no less than the International Olympic Committee for successfully honoring its commitment successfully despite economic constraints.
“Year 2005 was actually the time the country further reaffirmed our now world renowned ability to host big international events as he SEA Games, earning for us kudos no only from our neighbors here in he region but the entire universe as well via the IOC,” Cojuangco told The Times.
Reason why, Cojuangco added, he laments newspaper reports (not The Manila Times) quoting unidentified sources, imposing several conditions for the staging of the 2019 Games here. Among the conditions is nobody from the 2005 organizing committee, except for Cojuangco, should be involved owing to the still unliquidated P27.2 million by the organizing committee.
“If that condition is true, then, I should say that it is unfair,” the POC head said. “That 2005 Games was successful in terms of organization, preparations, training of our athletes, funding and, especially actual, competitions because we involved almost all sectors of our society, “ the POC head averred.
“Binigyan na nga tayo ng overall championship, kasama ang lahat ng sektor ng ating lipunan, kasama na ang buong sambayanang Pilipino na araw-araw ay nagpakita ng suporta sa ating atleta, tapos may ipu-puwera pa tayo,” the former Tarlac congressman lamented. “Masakit ‘yan sa lahat ng tumulong. Ayoko n’yan.”
Ramirez, for his part, appeal for all concerned to just wait for his boss’ final verdict and pray that it will be positive.
“The President, like all of us, has nothing in his mind but the welfare of the country. He, I’m sure is listening to all the arguments in favor and against the issue. I have no doubt that whatever his mind is, it’ll be fair to all concerned, especially to Philippine sports in general and our athletes, in particular, the PSC chair, who like Cojuangco, was involved in the 2005 hosting as head of the government entity, said.
Ramirez said he told Cojuangco to try everything possible to beg the SEA Games Federation to delay its decision on the Philippines’ hosting until the President would have finally made his.