ENDING speculations, Davao City Sports Development Division of the City Mayor's Office (SDD-CMO) officer-in-charge William "Butch" Ramirez yesterday confirmed that he at last accepted the chairmanship of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte called him through his special assistant Christopher "Bong" Go, Monday June 20.
Ramirez, who was silent for the past few days, answered this writer's call finally.
"Wala sa ko nagpa-interview maski sa Manila. Nag-istorya naming Mayor through Bong Go, gidawat na nako (I didn't grant any interview even from Manila. We've talked through Bong go, I accepted it). I have accepted the job for the country," the former PSC chief said at the start of the conversation.
"It's an honor that the President trusts me. It took me awhile to accept the job because for a year and a half I left my wife alone to campaign. The President trusts me and I can't say no to him. As he is willing to die for the country, I am willing to face my cases. Daghan gisakang kaso nako although na-acquit nako sa isa. Wala nay problema (There were cases filed against me but I was acquitted in one. That's not a problem). I will face it and I got to serve the country as well," he said.
He was pertaining to the graft case on the alleged anomalous procurement of cycling equipment in 2007. The Sandiganbayan acquitted him on June 16 but six of his co-accused were convicted.
Ramirez said Duterte told him to "serve the country well" and "go to the countryside".
"As per the instruction of the President, we will go to the countryside, to the provinces. Go out of Metro Manila for the development of athletes in the grassroots. We will revive the Philippine Sports Institute, what we have started, and put up regional training centers with regional directors," he said, adding that with strong developmental athletes, winning the coveted Olympic gold medal for the country is achievable.
He also said that strengthening grassroots development is top most priority although he also aims to strengthen linkages with different national sports associations (NSAs).
Ramirez, who served as advance party manager of the Duterte campaign team, went on saying, "I'm very focused. We have to go the periphery, beef up the talent identification program and strengthen our relationship with the NSAs, Deped (Department of Education), Scuaa, among other stakeholders."
Ramirez said he and incoming PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez will go to the PSC office on June 28 and meet with outgoing PSC chairman Richie Garcia for a smooth transition.
Go, according to Ramirez, confirmed to him that Fernandez was also appointed by Duterte as commissioner of the country's sports agency.
"Mag-uban ming Fernandez, magkita mi ngadto. It is but ethical and proper to meet with Chairman Garcia for a good transition. We will continue the programs of the PSC along with the sports institute," he said.
He, however, assured that they will keep the employees of the PSC, adding, "Walay matanggal nga empleyado. We will keep them. Kung naa may madungag, sa regional centers na (If there will be additional employees, they will be deployed to the regional centers)."
He will study the reports of the PSC, get data from them as well as from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), "so we can know where we are going".
Meanwhile, Sun.Star Cebu got Fernandez's confirmation Wednesday, June 22.
"Silent lang daw siya (Fernandez). He still wants to meet and present his program to President Digong. Although he confirmed that he got the call just awhile ago from Bong Go," Sun.Star Cebu sports said.
Ramirez served as chairman of the PSC from 2005 to 2009. It was during his term that the country emerged overall champion of the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games that the Philippines also hosted in Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City.