POC hopeful of Duterte support for country’s SEA Games hosting

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is hopeful to get the support of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco yesterday admitted they have yet to sit down with the incoming Chief Executive to discuss the government’s participation in the SEA Games to be hosted by Philippines for the first time 14 years.
Cojuangco said they are pressed for time as the SEA Games Federation needs a government guarantee by July 12 when it convenes in an executive session to discuss the hosting of Malaysia in 2017 and the Philippines in 2019.
The government guarantee will be in the form of an Executive Order that will mobilize vital government agencies like the Philippine Sports Commission, Department of Health, Department of Tourism, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Philippine National Police and Metro Manila Development Authority during the two-week sports conclave.
Cojuangco said he did not ask a government guarantee form his nephew, President Aquino, knowing that he is no longer in power when the country hosts the Games in 2019.
The new President will be in power starting June 30, giving the POC only two weeks to secure his support.
“That’s why we’re trying to set a meeting with the President-elect Duterte,” said Cojuangco, brother of former President Corazon Aquino and was a lawmaker for two decades.
The SEAG Federation tapped the Philippines to host the 2019 biennial meet after tiny Brunei backed out due to lack of infrastructure and preparation. Thailand also expressed eagerness to organize the Games, but the council still gave it to the Philippines.
The 11-nation council awarded the hosting rights to the Philippines on the condition that all the events will be held in one area, contrary to their previous hosting where some events were scattered all over the country like Cebu, Bacolod, Laguna, Metro Manila and Subic.
Cojuangco reiterated that should the new administration beg off from issuing a government guarantee, the POC will be forced to tap local government units as main organizers similar to what the Koreans did in the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.
“If it comes to worse, we will copy Incheon,” said Cojuangco. “They staged the Asian Games without the support of the national government. So they staged it through the help of the local government. Central Luzon is possible; they have the Philippine Arena which could serve as the main hub.”
Aside from the SEA Games, President-elect Duterte has also yet to throw his support to the country’s bid in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this August.
Olympic chief of mission said Joey Romasanta said they are trying to schedule a send-off ceremony with the incoming President.
“There’s no schedule yet (to meet with Duterte)” he said, adding that this could be the first time for the athletes to enter Malacanang in a long while as no send-off happened during the administration of was ever hosted by outgoing President Aquino. “I hope the President (Duterte) will give importance to the athletes who qualified for the Olympics. I think it will be good for the President to do that.”
If the Malacanang send-off will not fly, the POC is planning to hold it in a hotel outside the Palace “to somehow get near to the President.”

Source: Tribune