PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will no longer hold a send-off for athletes bound for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games due to the Asean Ministers' Meeting hosted by the country.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez apologized on Monday, saying the Chief Executive will not be able to host the Filipino athletes in Malacanang due to his busy schedule during the duration of the Asean meetings.
"The President is loaded with appointments with heads of states and other visitors," said Ramirez during a hastily-called press conference on Monday at the PSC office in Manila.
"I hope you will understand the position of the President," he added.
Ramirez, however, will lead a separate send-off for Filipino athletes slated on Wednesday at the Golden Pavilion, Center For International Trade Expositions and Missions-Department of Trade Industry in Pasay City.
"Kami naman ang representative ng Presidente. We received the invitation from (chef de mision) Cynthia Carrion," said Ramirez.
Last year, Duterte met with the Filipino athletes bound for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics at Malacanang. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz went on to win a silver medal in the Rio Games.
Team Philippines secretariat officer Annie Ruiz said Carrion invited the President through a letter that was endorsed by Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco Jr.
"The Presidential Management Staff requested the dates, at ang gusto sana ay August 4 or 10. Pero nag-reply sila na hindi makaka-attend dahil sobrang hectic ng schedule. We asked again for August 7, and they wanted only the athletes, but again asked for a specific time."
"Eventually, last Friday, Patrick Claudio replied that they regret and let the PSC chairman to meet the athletes on August 10 na lang in the absence of the president," said Ruiz.