Drop SEA Games, POC told

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With calls for the scrapping of the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games late this year no longer a whimper, other sports associations also yesterday aired complaints against their venue assignments by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation.

Surigao del Sur Congressman Prospero Pichay on Friday said he will question the Philippine OIympic Committee (POC) on the absence of a memorandum of agreement designating the Phisgoc to manage the SEA Games hosting on 29 March when the Council’s Executive Council meets for the first time this year.

Pichay said he will call for the country’s withdrawal from the hosting chores if there is no formal agreement between the two bodies.

There is also no budget released for the SEA Games hosting as it is to be drawn from the National Appropriations yet to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte amid a squabble between the House of Representatives and the Senate over local allocations and lump sum appropriations.

The SEA Games hosting was given P5 billion from the P7.5 billion earlier sought by Phisgoc chairman Alan Peter Cayetano. But the money was endorsed to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and which use will be scrutinized by the Commission on Audit (CoA).

That development left the Phisgoc with no fund coming from government.

But the Phisgoc is under fire from the national sports associations (NSA) for what several sports leaders claim as glaring mismanagement of the preparations.

For one, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had complained against the Phisgoc’s designation of the FilOil Arena in San Juan as basketball competitions venue.

An SBP insider blamed the Phisgoc for its failure to “pencil” a schedule with either the MoA Arena or the Araneta Coliseum — prime complexes which could host bigger sports undertakings.

The Billiard Sports Confederation of the Philippines (BSCP) and Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) also ranted against the competition venues assigned to them.

BSCP secretary general Robert Mananquil also complained about the inefficiency and lack of coordination from Phisgoc officials for the sudden transfer after holding several venue checks at Subic in Zambales and Clark in Pampanga.

Initially, the Phisgoc named the Royce Hotel in Clark as billiards competition venue. It was changed to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) after that and then to the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, then to the Marriot Hotel also in Pasay and lastly at the Manila Hotel Tent City, a portion of the historic hotel that Mananquil estimated to be only around 700 square meters.

“Our technical requirement is at least 1,000 square meters and above. Manila Hotel Tent will be too small for us,” said Mananquil, who is also a member of the powerful executive council of the POC.

“At the same time, the ceiling is quite low. Our technical delegate might not approve it.”

Mananquil added that compared to other venues, Manila Hotel reportedly offered a handsome discount to Phisgoc, which he claimed is reason why it is pushing hard for the last venue even if it does not meet their technical requirement.

“From P1 million, they agreed to give it at P400,000,” said Mananquil, the outspoken former La Paz, Tarlac vice mayor and former Press Undersecretary during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Maybe that’s the reason why Phisgoc is pushing hard to move us. They are sacrificing our technical requirements for that,” he said.

GAP secretary general Bettina Po said Phisgoc’s decision to move them from SMX to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex might affect their medal bids as her athletes will be left without a training venue with SEA Games drawing near.

Po, the trusted woman of gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion, said renovation of the promised competition venue inside the RMSC has yet to start and it would take time before they can go full blast in their training.

“The Phisgoc failed to book SMX, so it moved us to Rizal Memorial,” said Po. “So, while Rizal Memorial is being renovated, we have to look for a training venue like a warehouse or something.”

“It’s gonna be hard. The renovation of RMSC has yet to start and looking for a training venue will take some time. We already did our best searching, but we can’t find a perfect venue.”

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