BEFORE he resigned this week after three years as Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president, Ricky Vargas had complained of non-cooperation from the majority of the POC board.
But with his departure, serious infighting among the main characters overseeing preparations of the SEA Games at Clark later this year came to the fore.
In a press conference on Thursday, Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the Phisgoc (Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee), said: “Our task is simple, it is to organize the Games and try to make it the best staged and the most watched SEA Games.”
But Joey Romasanta, who, as the POC first vice president, is the mandated replacement of Vargas, punctuated his first official act as POC president by disputing Cayetano, saying: “We are the franchise holder of the Southeast Asian Games here in the country and so, we have all the rights to organize it in accordance to the mandate given to us by the Southeast Asian Games Federation Council.”
Rebutting that, Cayetano recalled an agreement for the country to reconsider hosting the cancelled Games this year on the condition that “the government will nominate the chair for the organizing committee.”
President Duterte named Cayetano last year as SEAG organizing committee chair while likewise hinting that Butch Ramirez “stay on top of the preparations.”
“After all, government money is being spent for the Games,” said someone close to Ramirez, who chairs the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
And to counter Romasanta’s idea of moving the Games from November to January, Ramirez said: “The SEA Games will push through as planned.”
What is, therefore, clear presently is: Cayetano is now at the saddle, Romasanta wants the saddle and Ramirez must be on top of the preparations as per Mr. Duterte’s directive.
My only wish is, while officials squabble over leadership of the P2.5-billion Games (very normal, almost), our athletes’ focus to win medals must never wane (that should be very normal, too).
Ranks divided rankle at the very core.