Philippine Olympic Committee board: It should be us, not them

June 22, 2019

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executive board will be very active in the country’s preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games following the resignation of Ricky Vargas as POC president.

According to POC board member lawyer Clint Aranas, the Olympic council is the franchise-holder of the SEA Games and other international tournaments as mandated by the SEA Games Federation Council, Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee.

With that, they should be the one on top of the preparations and the organizing body headed by Alan Peter Cayetano should just function as an ad hoc committee subject to the rules and regulations of the POC.

“We will take a more active role,” said Aranas, the archery president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), in an interview.

“We have to take a more active role in organizing the SEA Games because that is the mandate of the Philippine Olympic Committee.”

With Vargas at the helm, the POC executive board became an outsider in the country’s SEA Games preparation. It was also behind schedule as the Games are barely five months before the athletes from the 10 other foreign countries start to arrive.

In fact, Vargas, POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, POC executive director Ed Picson and former POC chairman Tom Carrasco joined members of Cayetano’s inner circle in Donaldo Caringal, Ramon Suzara, Monica Anne Mitra and Dexter Estacio in forming the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, Inc.

The Phisgoc Foundation is a body that is different to the organizing committee approved and ratified by the POC under the leadership of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco in 2017.

Yet, it took over the functions of the POC and made some crucial decisions like the creation of the official SEA Games logo, mascot and other marketing collaterals without the blessing of the POC executive board.

It also entered into contracts and is largely blamed for the slow buildup for the Games as questions in transportation, accommodation, venues, parade uniform, volunteer program and marketing cropped up.

The biggest concern, however, is the technical handbook.

National sports association leaders claimed that they have already submitted their technical concerns and other requirements to the Phisgoc Foundation as early as January, but the body has yet to produce the technical handbooks with only five months left before the biennial meet.

Aranas said they would put this concern on top of their agenda in the extraordinary general assembly meeting on Tuesday at the GSIS gymnasium.

“In the world of sports, the technical handbook is really, really important. It’s like the Bible of the Games,” said Aranas, the archery president and a former Bureau of Internal Revenues commissioner.

“There’s an urgent need for these technical handbooks to be produced as other countries are already asking how the Games would be ran. So, we will put it in the agenda of the general assembly meeting and determine how we can produce these handbooks right away.”

Aranas said they would also review all contracts that Phisgoc Foundation entered into to protect the POC from legal consequences.

“First of all, we need to find out first what are these contracts,” he said, adding that they would sit down with Cayetano in the coming days.

“We’re going to review these contracts. If they are within the authority given to the chairman (Cayetano) based on his appointment as chief of the organizing committee, and for as long as it accords with the POC charter and by-laws, then I don’t think there will be problems. We will ratify it.”