MANILA, August 27, 2003 (STAR) By Abac Cordero  - Philippine Sports Commission chairman Eric Buhain yesterday said he and his immediate staff will never run away from the lifestyle check being proposed by Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, the former PSC commissioner and now chairman of the House committee on youth and sports.

In fact, Buhain said that as part of the government’s ongoing campaign against corrupt officials, he, along with seven others working in his office, has submitted his statement of assets and liabilities (SALs) to the Commission on Audit as early as five weeks ago.

Buhain did not name the seven other PSC officials. He added that his four commissioners — Butch Ramirez, Leon Montemayor, Ambrocio de Luna and Mike Barredo — did not submit their SALs but will do so if and when asked by the COA.

"The intention of Congressman Puentevella is noble and his concern for Philippine sports is just showing," Buhain said in reaction to Puentevella’s proposal to have lifestyle checks conducted on top officials of the PSC and the Games and Amusements Board amid allegations that some of them have acquired "ill-gotten" wealth.

"But it’s a bit late because as early as five weeks ago, we were already asked to submit our SALs. And we’ve complied with that in support of President Arroyo’s lifestyle checks. Transparency is very important in government," said the PSC chief.

Eduardo Villanueva, GAB chairman, also welcomed any lifestyle check on him and other GAB officials.

Buhain, the former swimming sensation, however, has regretted the fact that this issue comes at a time when the government sports agency is enjoying tremendous support from the private sector as the country gears up for the Vietnam SEA Games this December.

Buhain said facing such allegations is part of being a public servant, adding that submitting a statement of his assets and liabilities is a common practice for him, his wife, who hails from Batangas, being a member of the House of Representatives.

"I just hope that the intention here is to help Philippine sports. And in return, I think this might just add more credibility to the commission," said Buhain, who also clarified issues on how he spends donations from the private sector, particularly Samsung.

Last year, Samsung donated P20 million to the PSC in preparation for the Busan Asian Games. Buhain said half of the amount was used to buy 1,100 sets of training uniforms from Adidas while the rest were spent in programs such as the nationwide torch relay and pep rallies.

Buhain also clarified that Adidas, as official outfitter of the PSC, is not providing the uniforms for free, contrary to earlier belief, but at a discounted rate. A complete set of training uniform (from shoes, jogging pants, jackets, shirts, shorts, socks, caps, towels and bags) costs P18,000 per athlete but is being purchashed by the PSC from Adidas at a discounted rate of P10,000.

Buhain even showed mediamen the Adidas Climacool running shoes he was wearing yesterday, similar to those being provided the athletes.

"How much does this cost? It’s close to P5,000," he said. "Meron sila lahat nito."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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