The fate of the 30th Southeast Asian Games the Philippines is supposed to host two years from now will be tackled on Wednesday when the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) conducts its General Assembly at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club clubhouse.
The General Assembly meeting, set at 1 p.m., will discuss the repercussions of the government’s withdrawal of support to the country’s hosting and what are the remedies available to save the Games, which, in the first place, was offered to and accepted by the Philippines last year.
The SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) offered the biennial meet’s 2019 hosting to the country after Brunei, the original site under the SEAGF rotation system, declined due to lack of technical manpower to supervise and manage the running the Games.
Earlier last week, Philippine Sports Commission chair William “Butch” Ramirez announced that the government is, likewise, begging off from supporting for the country to be the venue of the biennial conclave, citing the problems of terrorism and atrocities prevailing in Mindanao, particularly in the war-torn Marawi City.
Ramirez claimed the fund that could be required in staging the Games might as well be devoted to the rehabilitation of Marawi, where the armed battle between the government forces and the ISIS-inspired rebel troops have been raging the past two months.
POC President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco told the Manila Times that today’s consultative assembly, will be followed by an executive board meeting later in the day.
“I’ll just be consulting our members of the situation, assess what he problems are then ask them what they think are the possible solutions,” the former Tarlac congressman said.
Cojuangco, younger brother of the late former President Cory Aquino, said he cannot see any problem on funding, adding he has been talking to several of his friends in sports after knowing the government’s withdrawal of support and “everybody vowed to lend their hands in the hosting by way of providing financial help.”
“We’ve been in this situation several times before at tinulungan naman tayo ng business community each time,” Cojuangco told The Manila Times.
“We were in similar situation in 2005 when we last hosted the Games. In 1991, too, and even in 1981 when we held the Games here for the first time.”
“Mas malaki nga ang naging problema natin noong 1995. The whole, nation suffered then from the many catastrophes that struck us. Nandoon ang pagputok ng Mt. Pinatubo. Bumaha sa Leyte at kung ano-ano pang dagok ang tumama sa bayan,” he recalled.
“We endured them all. We held the Games successfully. The whole of Southeast Asia, the Asian region itself rejoiced. We earned the respect of the entire world through the International Olympic Committee for our resiliency. For our ability to rise from the grave,” Cojuangco exclaimed with pride.
“In all this though, even if we have money, we still need the government support. There’s this need on security, housing for athletes and officials and members of foreign delegations, health concerns, among others,” the POC top man said.
Cojuangco said it’ll be a pity if the country eventually failed honoring its commitment, adding that President Duterte might not have been fully assessed of the situation by his men.
He said he will be seeking an audience with President Duterte to explain to him the significance of hosting the 2019 Games, which actually, will fall in the year the Philippines is celebrating its 30th year as member of the now 11-nation aggrupation.
“It’s a pity really, because when I informed him of the offer for us to play host to the Games and I offered him in turn to hold it in Davao, he was a very receptive and appreciative,” he disclosed.
“That is one big opportunity sana for us to showcase to the whole universe what Mindanao really is and what kind of people Mindanaoans are,” he remarked.
“Sayang talaga. But it’s not over yet. There’s still chance that we can have it. We still have two years from now and 2019. Baka mahilot pa,” Cojuangco said.