Manila, June 24, 2003 By Abac Cordero (Star) Since it’s the government that will spend for the country’s participation in the Vietnam SEA Games in December, then it’s the Philippine Sports Commission, and not the Philippine Olympic Committee, that will have to decide on the number of Filipino athletes that will vie in the biennial competition.

This was announced by PSC chairman Eric Buhain yesterday after he formed a five-man task force that will work directly with the national sports associations (NSAs) regarding the formation of a lean and mean RP delegation capable of meeting the target of 60 gold medals or third place overall in Vietnam.

The POC, under its president Celso Dayrit, has earlier formed its own six-man task force that’s been working under a different criteria. This, according to the PSC, would result in a bloated number of athletes that will have to work on an extremely limited budget from the national government.

POC yata parang barkada-barkada lang. Eh ‘yung sa akin, kailangan ko ma-defend ‘yan when the time comes that I’m questioned by the President or Congress or the Senate how the money was spent. If we win 60 gold medals with 700 athletes, successful ba ‘yon?" said Buhain.

Buhain said the PSC will come up with its own list of athletes — qualified and justifiable — in coordination with the NSAs. He said the PSC would use the final POC list only as guidance but not necessarily for them to follow.

"Kung sosobra sa list namin at gusto nila
(POC) isama, di humanap sila ng sariling funding nila. Why such a big team? We can win 60 gold medals with 350 to 400 athletes. And not 700. We have limited funds. Bakit hindi maintindihan ng POC ‘yon?" Buhain stressed.

The PSC said it would form the team under only one condition: at least a silver in the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, at least a bronze in the 2002 Busan Asian Games or a recent performance to that level, and justifiable athletes in individual and team sports.

"Under that criteria, so far we have 279 qualified athletes and, plus those coming in from team sports, we’d reach around 350. Sa POC, ngayon pa lang, with five months left, more or less 500 na yata ang nasa list nila," said the former swimming sensation.

The POC, Buhain added, has lowered its criteria to at least a bronze in the last SEA Games and fourth or fifth place in the last Asian Games, resulting to a bigger number of athletes that might put the PSC in a bind as far as the budget is concerned. The PSC has set aside a budget of close to P40 million for the actual participation in Vietnam.

"To just come up with names must be subjected to the availability of funds. The POC must understand that there’s a limit. Ngayon kung lalampas sila doon, then we’ll charge it to them.

Buhain also blasted the POC for insisting on Accel being the official outfitter despite the fact that it could not provide all the needed outfit, and that adidas has been the official outfitter of the RP team to the last couple stagings of the SEA Games.

adidas, according to Buhain, will spend around P7 million to provide the athletes the complete outfit for the Vietnam Games just as long as it’s called the official outfitter.

"Eto na ang
adidas, libre. Ang gusto pa ng POC Accel na hindi daw maibibigay lahat and we’re not even sure kung libre. If they can ask Accel sagutin na lahat, adidas is willing to step aside. Why would we spend when adidas, with the help of Samsung, is giving everything for free. Bakit pa hahanap ng pagkakagastusan?" Buhain added.

Steve Hontiveros of bowling, the POC vice president and member of the task force, however, denied that they have kept the PSC out of their meetings.

"In fact, we want to work hand in hand with them. But we don’t have control over them. This is not good," he was quoted as saying regarding the PSC decision to form its own task force made up of Tatz Suzara, Ed Mateo, Ariel Paredes, Sean Solis and Benjie McMurray.

Joining Hontiveros in the POC side are Vic Valbuena of table tennis, Nestor Ilagan of rowing, Rey Jaylo of judo, Hector Camacho of judo, and Mario Tanchangco of sepak takraw.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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