A DEPARTMENT of Education (DepEd)-Davao official came to the defense of Palarong Pambansa 2017 host Antique Province on the news that Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) delegates slept on cartons since they arrived there Saturday even as complaints on the playing venues were also raised Wednesday, April 19.

"It's unfair to the people of Antique. It's unfair to the municipal government of Hamtic and to our billeting schools as if gipasagdan ang Davao delegation (we were neglected) when in truth they have been very hospitable. Even the Municipal Vice-Mayor comes here every day to check on us and how we are all doing. We apologize to the people of Antique for the hurt that this news brought them," DepEd Davao spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said in a phone interview with SunStar Davao Monday, April 17.

He was pertaining to Municipal Vice-Mayor Julius Pacificador who visits the Davraa quarters at Governor Julian Fullon Pacificador National High School (GJFPNHS) and M. Buyco Elementary School (MBES) in Hamtic, Antique as well as GJFPNHS principal Jose Angel Cordero and MBES principal Eden Mosquera who have also been "very accommodating."

Atillo, however, affirmed that since the 300 mattresses arrived only on Monday, the first batch of the over 600 Davraa delegates that arrived past midnight Saturday have to make do with folded cartons as DepEd-Davao officials have to think of an alternative other than allowing the athletes to sleep directly on the cold cemented floor.

He also said that government procurement procedure may have delayed the release of mattresses intended for all delegations, adding that the Provincial and Municipal Governments have already been doing their best to address such concern.

"Naa pa may muabutay nga mats. Magpaabot lang ta. Mas natagaan gani ta og pabor kay sa ubang delegasyon 100 mats pa lang nahatag, sa atoa kay 300 na (There are still more mattresses coming, let us just wait. We were even given the favor since other delegations only got initial 100 mats while we already received 300 mats)," he said, adding that Davraa delegates were only instructed to bring beddings such as pillows and blankets as they were told that mattresses will be provided by the Palaro hosts.

12,000 more unattended

The 300 mattresses were not enough to cater to the more than 600 Davraa delegates who are only a small percentage of the some 14,000 delegates from 18 competing regions.

DepEd School Sports Division head Cesar Abalon, replying to a text message, said this year's edition is expecting 14,000 delegates with an estimate of 653 per delegation.

"Some delegations will have more than that," Abalon said.

Thus, if each of the 18 delegations, except Davraa, received a partial of 100 mattresses for a total of 2,000 mattresses then there are still about 12,000 delegates left with nothing to sleep on although a few delegates rented houses just like some of Davraa's swimming, basketball, futsal and football teams, while others are staying in hotels.

Abalon, who was in a meeting, refused to comment on the situation.

A Davraa parent said, "Puyat po kami ngayon sa kakaisip. Masakit po sa amin na malayo yung anak ko, iniisip na kami natutulog sa comfortable at malambot na bed pero yung anak ko nakahiga sa karton (We're sleepless because we've been thinking too much. It's hard for us to be away from our children. We think they're sleeping on a comfortable bed but they're sleeping on a carton)."

As of Monday afternoon, the parent's child and the rest of the teammates used cartons to rest. They were among those who have yet to receive mattresses in the second batch of releasing set on Thursday, April 20.

DepEd-Davao regional sports coordinator Antonio Pasquito Jr. earlier told SunStar Davao about the fate of the Davraa delegates, who slept on carton sheets upon their arrival. The first batch of the delegation arrived Saturday, April 15 while the second batch came Sunday, April 16.

Woes continue

But while the problem on lack of mattresses has yet to be resolved, SunStar Davao also learned that the badminton open playing court at St. Anthony's College gym in San Jose, Antique has yet to be covered while the nets were only installed Monday, denying athletes of valuable practice sessions.

Badminton needs to be played in an enclosed gym, otherwise, wind entering the open court will disrupt play.

The gym, it was learned, will be enclosed with tarpaulin to prevent air flow that can affect the flight of shuttlecocks. It will also stop proper ventilation.

Meanwhile, a SunStar Davao source who requested anonymity said that a resolution to make use of the Evelio B. Javier Tennis Court as a venue for the Palarong Pambansa 2017 tennis competition, which was approved by majority of the Provincial Board, was bypassed.

The tennis court, proposed to be a venue for elementary girls' tennis, is reportedly being used for food stalls.

The designated venue for tennis is the Binirayan Sports Complex and San Pedro Plaza.

A status report dated March 27 to 31 on the tennis courts signed by regional tennis coordinator Julian Tinasas, which was furnished to the SunStar Davao Facebook page, said the two tennis courts at the Binirayan Sports Complex are okay while the two additional courts have yet to be completed.

The two other tennis courts at San Pedro Plaza, however, are still under construction. Thus, Tinasas recommended the use of the Capitol Tennis Court at the Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park as venue for elementary girls' tennis.

A current photo of the Belison Municipal Gym, the venue for the taekwondo competition that appears to be also not yet completed, was also sent to SunStar Davao.