The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, Inc. has no control over the staging of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Joey Romasanta clarified that they are the franchise-holder of the Games, making the Council as the rightful body to organize the prestigious biennial meet set from 30 November to 15 December.
Romasanta asserted that all SEA Games-related decisions should emanate from them since they are empowered by the SEA Games Federation Council, the Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee to stage major international tournaments in the country.
The discussion on which group should call the shots in the SEA Games has been a thorny issue.
After the country regained the hosting rights in 2017, former POC chief Jose “Peping” Cojuangco assigned Alan Peter Cayetano to be the chairman of an ad hoc committee that will run the Games.
But when Vargas replaced Cojuangco as POC president following a court-ordered election in February last year, the ad hoc committee was incorporated into a foundation with Vargas, POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, and POC communications director Ed Picson representing the POC.
It was then called as the PHISGOC Foundation, which the POC said it does not recognize as it is a totally different body that the original PHISGOC they had formed.
Also included in the original incorporators of Phisgoc Foundation are former POC chairman Tom Carrasco, Donaldo Caringal, Ramon Suzara, Monica Mitra and Dexter Estacio.
With Vargas at the helm, Phisgoc Foundation took over the functions of the POC, including the selection of the Games’ official mascot, official logo, and official theme as well as enter into deals with suppliers and contractors without board approval of the POC.
It also aimed to host “future international competitions to be hosted by the Philippines,” based on its paper of incorporation.
But now that Romasanta assumed the POC presidency after Vargas’ abrupt resignation, he asserted that the local Olympic movement should be on top of the hosting.
“We’re not assuming something that’s not ours,” said Romasanta, an old hand in Philippine sports after leading the Project: Gintong Alay in the 1980s.
“We are the franchise-holder of the Southeast Asian Games here in the country so we have all the rights to organize it in accordance to the mandate given to us by the Southeast Asia Games Federation Council.”
Phisgoc Foundation has its own team of organizers, the majority of them are not members of the local Olympic council.
They are in charge of various committees like venues, transportation, accommodation, ceremonies, volunteer program, publicity and promotions, marketing, information technology and the overall organization of the sports.
Romasanta said the national sports associations (NSAs) should be on top of organizing their respective sports because they would be held accountable to their respective international federations if something happens.
“You can’t expect a non-volleyball person to be on top of running volleyball events,” said Romasanta, who already sat down with Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and Salvador Medialdea to explain the situation besetting the country’s hosting of the biennial meet.
“That’s why the NSAs should be on top of organizing their respective sports. They know fully well how their respective sports should be properly run,” he continued.
“Because if something happens in the staging of the Games, these NSAs would be held accountable by their respective international federations – not the PHISGOC.”