40 TO 60 GOLDS IN SOUTH EAST ASIAN GAMES REALISTIC

MANILA, August 20, 2003 (STAR) By Abac Cordero  - With the private sector fully behind them, there should be no stopping the country’s top athletes from achieving their goal in the 22nd Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam this December.

In fact, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Eric Buhain sees no reason for these athletes to fail in the country’s bid to win 40 to 60 gold medals and improve on its fifth place finish in the biennial meet two years ago.

"The private sector has put great trust on our athletes. We will not let them down," said Buhain after First Gentleman Mike Arroyo successfully led private firms and individuals in a pledging session in Malacañang last Friday.

Aimed at providing additional funds for the training and preparation of the national athletes, the pledging session raised a total of P24,750,000 barely a hundred days before the start of the SEA Games.

The money raised in Malacañang is apart from the PSC budget of at least P40 million to be spent for the actual participation of the close to 500 Filipino athletes and over a hundred officials.

San Miguel Corp. turned out to be the most generous among the private sector with a donation of P10 million. The Razons, Aboitizes and Ayalas chipped in P3 million each along with telecommunications giant PLDT.

Also doing their share were Samsung, Smart, Globe and Fortune Tobacco with P500,000 each, Philippine National Oil Co. with P300,000, and Petron, GMA Network and Jimmy Borromeo, a close friend of the First Gentleman, P100,000 each. Tossing in P50,000 each were the Philippine Charity Sweepstake Office, Philippine Depositors Insurance Corp. and Philippine National Bank.

Even before the pledging session, Samsung, a Korean firm, had promised P2.5 million more for the Philippine campaign. The First Gentleman Foundation had also pledged P10 million, through the Philippine Olympic Committee, as early as last month.

Buhain said the PSC expects to have these funds filling up its spacious coffers starting this week, giving the government sports agency enough time to decide on how to spend it among the close to 80 select athletes with strong chances of winning the gold.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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