by Nick Giongco
A call from Malacañang late Tuesday night prompted Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez to reconsider his decision to turn down the post of chief of mission to the 2019 Southeast Asian Games the country is hosting towards the end of the year.
Ramirez had earlier declined the offer by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to assume the role of CDM after POC president Ricky Vargas to replace Monsour del Rosario for “loss of trust and confidence” during the General Assembly last Monday.
“Last night (Tuesday night), I was given firm instructions which I shall carry out, knowing beyond any doubt that national interest is primary concern of government, and should be of all,” Ramierz said in a statement that he read out Wednesday morning at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
“I do this for the interest of unity,” Ramirez said. “Through this, I express my solid support to the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc). We must stand as one.”
Vargas, standing beside Ramirez, was grateful for Malacañang’s vital part in solving the crisis that put the country’s buildup for the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 SEAG at a standstill following the POC’s move to replace Del Rosario.
“I am most humbled by the statement of the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson announcing that the Palace supports the Philippine Olympic Committee under the leadership of chairman Abraham Tolentino and yours truly,” said Vargas.
Vargas likewise expressed his “sincere appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for coming to the side of the athletes in their quest for glory” even as he “thank PSC chairman Ramirez for his personal sacrifice in coming to a difficult decision reconsidering his appointment as CDM.”
Phisgoc head Alan Peter Cayetano was also lauded by the POC “for his untiring efforts at keeping Phisgoc together,” said Vargas, adding that Ramirez’s change of heart made the partnership between the POC, Phisgoc and PSC “stronger.”
“He’s (Ramirez) is the most qualified (to become CDM). Many are qualified but he’s the most qualified,” added Vargas.
Immediately after his acceptance of the CDM post, Ramirez invited all NSA leaders to a dialogue next week so he would know their concerns before a meeting with venue and competition managers takes place.
Ramirez admits his new role is a daunting one but is nonetheless looking forward to the challenge.
“This is not easy but is an exciting job,” he added.