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Palace cancels SEAG hosting

Gov’t funds will be used to rebuild Marawi.

The Philippines will no longer proceed with the hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games after Malacañang informed the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) yesterday that government resources would instead be channeled to war-torn Mindanao.

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“Due to the current situation in Mindanao and the problem of terrorism and atrocities, we regret to inform you that we will no longer push through with the hosting of the biennial event,” wrote Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez in his letter addressed to POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, Jr.

“It has been resolved that government resources be focused in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of Mindanao, especially Marawi City,” added Ramirez in the letter that was formally received by the POC yesterday morning.

The government’s full backing is a must in staging the biennial sportsfest from the ASEAN region and Malacanang’s decision to withdraw automatically placed the hosting dead in the water.

The POC was still unavailable for comment on the issue and POC first vice-president Joey Romasanta advised everyone that it would be better for Cojuangco to address the issue.

Calls made to Cojuangco’s mobile phone until yesterday afternoon went unanswered.

The situation in Marawi has worsened and President Duterte even visited the troops battling members of the Maute terrorist group two days ago to boost their morale and to show that the government is doing everything to find a solution to the problem.

Despite the decision to pull out, the government, through the PSC, yesterday assured the SEAG Federation Council that the Philippine delegation going to the Aug. 19-30 Games in Kuala Lumpur is being supported all the way.

In fact, the PSC said in a press conference also yesterday that closer to P300 million has been earmarked for the national athletes’ training and actual participation in the SEAG in Malaysia.

The country is sending a 773-strong delegation to Kuala Lumpur, one of the biggest in the history, and P192 million alone was spent for their participation in overseas tournaments and buildup.

Of the 773, 498 will be made up of athletes from 37 sports while the rest will be composed of coaches, national sports association heads and members of the secretariat and medical team.

As of yesterday, there was no official word as to which country is willing to grab the 2019 hosting. In 2021, Vietnam will be the host and Cambodia will get its first taste of staging in 2023.

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Written by Nick Giongco

PRESIDENT Duterte gives a pep talk to troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu prior to visiting wounded soldiers at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu. With Duterte are Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Arthur Tabaquero, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa, and JTF Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, among others. (Presidential photo)

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