Monday, November 28, 2011

Malacañang: SEAG debacle? What debacle?

Rey Saludar, right, the designated flag carrier for the PH delegation in the SEA Games, and sports officials from left; PSC chair Richie Garcia, VP Jejomar Binay, POC pres. Jose Cojuangco, Jr. and dep. chef de mission Julian Camacho during the send off ceremonies at the ULTRA before the competition. Photo by Romy Homillada
MANILA, Philippines—Contrary to the observation that Filipino athletes did poorly at the recent 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia, Malacañang Thursday marveled at their performance.

“We commend them for their performance in the Southeast Asian Games,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing.

Lacierda said the Palace did not think that the country came up with a poor performance despite winding up sixth in the medal tally—its worst finish since 1978, when the Philippines first joined the regional Games.

“Certainly there’s always room for improvement, but we congratulate our Philippine contingent for their noble performance in the Southeast Asian Games,” he told reporters.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., earlier said the country must follow the path taken by its neighbors by increasing the budget for sports.

“We have to really review what the others are doing,” Cojuangco said in Thursday’s Usapan POC” radio show. “Why Singapore is spending so much, [as in the case of] Vietnam and Myanmar. Why can’t we do it here.”

Singapore reportedly spent the equivalent of P4.8 billion for sports this year. In contrast, the PSC worked on a budget of about P600 million that came from its share of the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and from the General Appropriations Act.

Early this year, the PSC set aside a total of P400 million for all the national sports associations (NSAs). The PSC received P168 million from the GAA which was spent for the agency’s daily operations and facilities upkeep.

“Right now Myanmar is changing its attitude,” said Cojuangco. “The [Philippines’] decision makers will have to realize where we are going… How much do we really want and how much importance do we give to sports.”
PSC chair Richie Garcia said it’s unfair to put all the blame on the sports agency.

“Why blame us? We don’t pick and train the athletes,” said Garcia referring to the NSAs, which all have the discretion of choosing, training and monitoring the national athletes.

The Philippines managed only 36 golds, 56 silvers and 77 bronzes in Indonesia. Singapore had a 42-45-73 tally to finish fifth behind Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Myanmar will stage the 2013 Games, and at the rate it is preparing for a breakout performance, disgruntled sports officials said the country might even slide to seventh place.

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