Ramirez challenges POC to stage 2019 SEA Games with no government support
“If you are a good leader, you can attract money and support from the private sector. You do not have to worry about money from the government," says PSC chairman Butch Ramirez on POC head Peping Cojuangco's plan to host the 2019 SEA Games. Jerome Ascano

THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will have to be on its own if it pushes through with the hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez reiterated the government agency's decision to pull out of hosting the SEA Games two years from now, and at the same time, challenged sports leaders to get their acts together if they plan to stage the biennial meet.

Speaking in a briefing at Malacanang with presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Thursday, Ramirez stood firmly behind the decision of President Duterte to channel the money to be spent for the hosting on the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City and the rest of the Mindanao region.

“While it is sad and painful not to host the SEA Games, naabutan talaga ng problema,” Ramirez told Palace reporters.

“Una, pumutok yung Marawi, so gagamitin namin yung pera,” he added,

In a general assembly held Wednesday, the POC stood path on its decision to hold the SEA Games here even in the absence of government support, although the body is still hoping to sit down with Duterte to give him a clear view of the benefits from hosting the meet.

[See Defiant Peping says POC to push through with 2019 SEA Games hosting]

Ramirez welcomed the move of the POC under long-time president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, saying it's high time the Olympic body stops relying on the government and starts working hand in hand with the private sector.

“If you do not have that honest picture, how can you lead sports?” Ramirez asked. “If you are a good leader, you can attract money and support from the private sector. You do not have to worry about money from the government.”

“Sabi ng Presidente, walang committee-committee diyan. Tayo ang masusunod diyan kasi nasa atin ang pera.”

Besides, Ramirez said other than money, sports facilities are also needed to host the SEA Games, which was last staged here in 2005.

“There are many areas na mag-aayos kami ng facilities,” stressed the PSC chairman.

At the moment, the country only has the 83-year-old Rizal Memorial Complex and the Philsports Arena as venues for multi-sports events.

Instead of renovating these facilities for the SEA Games, Ramirez said it would be better to use the funds to build modern playing venues and small sports playground in rural areas.

“There are many areas that need sports facilities and sports programs na mapupuntahan ng pera sana for the SEA Games hosting,” said the 67-year-old sports leader. “Marami ang nanghihingi ng sports facilities."

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Ramirez also stressed controversy shrouded the last time the country hosted the SEA Games as he reminded the POC about its pending liquidation before the Commission on Audit (CoA) on expenses incurred during the 2005 hosting.

“May mga bagay din na dapat ayusin sa POC, like nung 2005. Meron silang dapat sagutin sa CoA,” he added.

“For us to do 2019 at hindi ma-resolve, mahirap yun.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos