Phisgoc still recognized but only as a committee — says new POC president

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THE PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) will continue to recognize Taguig Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano as chairman of the ad hoc committee for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Joey Romasanta, the newly installed POC president, yesterday said Cayetano remains on top of the organizing body by virtue of his appointment made by former POC chief Jose “Peping” Cojuangco two years ago.

The Phisgoc, however, has to function as a mere committee under the Olympic council rule and not as chief of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, Inc., different body formed by Cayetano which he claimed should be on top of the organizing chores for the Games even if it does not have the POC Board’s approval.

Although Cayetano is not an incorporator of the Phisgoc Foundation, members of his inner circle in Ramon Suzara, Donaldo Caringal, Dexter Estacio and Monica Anne Mitra are all part of it, together with recently-resigned POC president Ricky Vargas, POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, POC communications director Ed Picson and former POC chairman Tom Carrasco.

The Phisgoc Foundation took over the functions of the POC and made some crucial decisions on its own, like the creation of the Games’ official logo, theme, mascot and other marketing collaterals without the approval of the POC board.

It also entered into contracts and is largely blamed for the very slow buildup for the Games as questions in transportation, accommodation, sponsorship, marketing campaign, venues, volunteer program, parade uniform and technical handbook have recently surfaced.

Romasanta said he is set to sit down with Cayetano in the coming days to map out the SEA Games preparations.

“This is a complex problem that needs simple solution,” said Romasanta, the former POC first vice president who assumes the POC presidency via succession after Vargas filed his irrevocable resignation last Tuesday.

“We have to revert to the original plan of having Sec. Cayetano as chairman of the organizing committee under the POC. With that, I am seeking a one-on-one meeting with him before forming a tripartite agreement with him and (Philippine Sports Commission) Chairman Butch Ramirez.”

Discussion is still underway, but a POC board member in lawyer Clint Aranas hinted that they might review all contracts that Phisgoc Foundation had entered into.

Aranas, the designated spokesperson of the POC, said if they don’t see any problem with the contracts, they would gladly approve them before the general assembly.

“First of all, we have to find out what these contracts are about,” said Aranas, the archery president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System.

“We’re going to review these contracts. If they are within the authority given to the chairman (Cayetano) based on his appointment as chief of the organizing committee, and for as long as it accords with the POC charter and by-laws, then I don’t think there will be problems. We will ratify it.”

Romasanta, however, suggested that there should be a cut-off on the dates that the contracts were made.

“Another solution is to come up with a cut-off,” said Romasanta, an old hand in sports after serving as chief of the Project: Gintong Alay in the 1980s.

“We have to agree on the date we assumed position. We will be accountable for the contracts made after we assumed position while they will be answerable to those made before we got here.”

“There are a lot of ways to skin a cat. But at this point, the most important way is to make sure that we come up with a successful hosting of the Southeast Asian Games.”