Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez has called for unity among warring officials in the Philippine Olympic Committee for the sake of local sports while declining his appointment as chef de mission of the National contingent to the 30th Southeast Asian Games which the country is hosting this December.
In a statement sent to People's Journal, Ramirez said he was offered by POC chair Bambol Tolentino the post after POC head Ricky Vargas relieved Monsour del Rosario of the position during a heated General Assembly meeting on Monday that also saw former POC president Peping Cojuangco and two other close allies suffering the same fate.
“Yesterday, I got a call from Cong. Bambol Tolentino, who on behalf of the Philippine Olympic Committee as its Chairman, very kindly offered me the Chef de Mission tasks for Team Philippines' 2019 Southeast Asian Games participation.
“After some moment of introspection, and to finally put to rest all speculations, I now issue this statement to humbly and officially decline the offer. Thank you very much for considering this humble servant,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez also made a call to Philippine sports officials for unity after a controversial general assembly meeting in which Vargas removed committee heads in key positions such as Cojuangco, first vice president Joey Romasanta, and Robert Bachmann.
"Today, we wake up to a Philippine sports world in shambles. After the tumultuous event in the yard of our POC partners, we all find ourselves at a crossroads in our journey. I believe that unity is vital in any endeavor. More so in this ideal, that we all undertake in our own capacities - to push Philippine sports to its highest possibilities,” said Ramirez.
“In our work in the grassroots partnerships, one of our major mandates, our stakeholders in the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, showed us how they all long for unity and peace, in sports and our country. As sports leaders and adults, it is our duty to show our youth that national interest always places ahead of our personal interests,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez said he will continue to help the country’s hosting and campaign in the 2019 SEA Games even without the chef de mission post.
“I am a public servant. I am bound by duty to deliver what is demanded of me by the law. Whether or not I am CDM in SEA Games 2019, I and the PSC will surely provide our full and sincere support to Team Philippines,” he added.
Ramirez also said the PSC is open to host a dialogue between the two warring factions within the POC.
“As the Chairman of the PSC, I call upon all our sports leaders to step back and take a moment to consider peaceful interactions. I still believe that we can all sit down and civilly thresh out what needs to be straightened out. The PSC is open to host a dialogue between parties and provide neutral ground for everyone to air their side and ultimately to either sacrifice or step-up in the interest of a unified sporting community,” said Ramirez.