POC appeals for Philippines to host 2019 SEA Games
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is insisting on hosting the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in 2019 despite the Philippine government withdrawing its support for the biennial meet due to the conflict in Marawi City in Mindanao.
The POC headed by its president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco has penned a letter dated July 27, 2017, appealing for President Rodrigo Duterte to support the hosting of the 30th SEAG by citing the positive outcome for the country in the face of the Marawi conflict.
A few weeks ago, the POC received a letter from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) headed by its chairman, William "Butch" Ramirez, informing them that the Philippines is no longer in the running to host the biennial meet in 2019.
The Philippines was to pitch for the hosting at next month's SEAG federation meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
Ramirez cited in the letter that the reason for the decision is that the government resources will instead be focused on the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Mindanao especially Marawi.
Cojuangco has pointed out that the POC is fully supportive of the government's decision to focus its resources in rehabilitating Marawi but it also endeavors to protect the Philippines' reputation in the face of adversity.
"As such, we wish to endeavor to promote the Philippines as a beautiful place and safe haven for international events," POC's letter stated.
It further added that "The hosting of the SEA Games in 2019 would be a great platform to show to the world that despite these problems in Mindanao, the Philippines is a generally secure country to play sports and a regional hub for business."
Cojuangco also pointed out in the letter that tourism is a top contributor to the Philippines' economic stability and growth, claiming that 11 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from tourism.
A report from the Philippine Statistics Authority dated June 8, 2017 estimates that the contribution of tourism to the economy was 8.6% in 2016.
"We need the 2019 Southeast Asian Games to help generate more tourism receipts and invite leisure and business travelers from around the world. It is in this light that we appeal to the President to support the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines in 2019."
The Office of the President has yet to respond to POC's appeal.
Although POC has the final say on whether or not the Philippines will push through with the hosting, PSC executive director Carlo Abarquez said the decision not to host will stay as Malacañang Palace no longer supports it.
The Philippines had sent feelers for the hosting chores after Brunei pulled out of it citing lack of venues and preparation time.
The last time that the Philippines hosted the SEAG was in 2005, wherein the Philippine Southeast Asian Games organizing committee (Philsoc), led by Cojuangco, still has an unliquidated P27 million in cash advances, which Ramirez says has to be accounted for.
The P27 million is part of the P167 million released by the PSC for the hosting of the 2005 SEAG. – Rappler.com