DAVAO CITY - A curious mix of candidates has emerged in the waiting game as President-elect Rodrigo Duterte weighs his decision on key positions in the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
William 'Butch' Ramirez, a former commissioner and chairman of the government sports agency and seen as the leading candidate, has crossed his name out of the list, leaving the door open for other candidates.
“(Ramirez) has told us he is not interested so the search is on,” said spokesman Peter Lavina of Ramirez, who would've been the logical choice after working in Duterte's campaign team as the man in charge of engagements.
“If you can find us (someone) who is fitting (for the position), then tell us who would you like,” Lavina told reporters.
With Ramirez supposedly out of the picture, the race for the chairmanship has become wide open.
Two incumbents in chairman Ricardo Garcia and Commissioner Jolly Gomez are being mentioned to be on the candidates list, although they immediately do not qualify under the first Duterte requirement of “shared vision.”
Also, Duterte is not keen to name Aquino appointees to his administration.
There is also incumbent PSC executive director in Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr., who enjoys the support of the Davao City Sports Council Inc.
“We are fully behind the appointment of Atty. Iroy who we believe is the best candidate to head the PSC,” said DCSCI president Dexter So.
Iroy was the executive director during the early days of Ramirez's chairmanship, but their relationship soured leading to Iroy’s exit from the agency. He returned to the agency in 2010 when Garcia appointed him.
The Garcia administration filed two administrative charges against Ramirez that are still pending before the courts, which should serve as a stumbling block to his appointment to any position under the Duterte administration.
However, Lavina disagreed.
“I think he can (be appointed), he is not convicted yet,” Lavina said.
The other candidates being floated by people close to the Pesident-elect are former senator and swimming patron Nikki Coseteng and University of Mindanao athletic director Joaquin Sarabia, who is backed by Ramirez.
Sarabia is a close associate of Ramirez, with the two having organized corporate events in Davao City.
For the commissionership positions, the aspirants are Joseph Encabo, a former executive assistant of Ramirez at the PSC, and Association of Persons with Disability-Davao City president and chess arbiter James Infiesto.
The name of former PSC commissioner Leon Montemayor was also floated but he said he's not interested in becoming chairman of the agency.
“I am happy here in Davao,” said Montemayor.
In previous interviews, Duterte said he is careful in making appointments to the PSC, saying he is aware of existing conflicts within the sports agency.
“Alam ko magulo diyan,” he said.