MANILA, January 7, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero  -  Philippine Sports Commission officer-in-charge Butch Ramirez has bared a long-term five-point sports program that falls under a special directive handed to him no less by President Arroyo the other day.

Ramirez received his official appointment paper from outgoing PSC chairman Eric Buhain yesterday morning then immediately buckled down to work by calling for an emergency board meeting in the afternoon.

Ramirez’ appointment finally ended weeks of speculations on who would take over the PSC either as a new chairman or OIC.

Stated in the program are the revival of the Palarong Pambansa, the building of a new sports training center in Baguio City and that he personally look after the welfare of the close to 500 national athletes.

The President also asked Ramirez to find ways to achieve greater unity between the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and, last but not the least, help the country win a medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"I’m here to follow all the President’s instructions," said Ramirez, who became PSC commissioner five years ago, silently and effectively performing his duties despite all the controversies hounding the agency.

Looking after the national athletes, Ramirez said, will be the backbone of his stint as OIC of the government sports agency which revolves around a huge annual budget of P500 million from Congress and other government institutions.

"The athletes are the heart and soul of Philippine sports. And President Arroyo has instructed me to take care of them," stressed Ramirez who will meet Buhain today at the chairman’s office for the formal turnover of power.

"There are a lot of things to be done in the agency. We have a lot of things to do especially for the coming SEA Games this November. Definitely, there will be redirection in the commission," Ramirez said.

Buhain has moved over to the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) and will have his own turnover of power with outgoing chairman Eduardo Villanueva in the afternoon. He reportedly took his oath before the President yesterday in Malacañang.

As GAB chairman, Buhain, who won six swimming gold medals during the 1991 Manila SEA Games, will handle professional sports, from the issuing of licenses to athletes and the implementation of all the rules and regulations.

Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, who was with Ramirez when the President relayed her instructions, said the Chief Executive wants a long-term sports program put up as soon as possible.

Its end result, according to Puentevella, is the country’s winning medal, possibly the gold, during the Beijing Olympics.

"The President wants a medal in Beijing and all of us should help each other in achieving that goal," said Puentevella.

The setting up of a training center in Baguio will soon be studied and hopefully implemented.

This plan has shelved earlier suggestions of putting up one somewhere in Pampanga.

The Palaro, which has an annual budget of close to P40 million, was postponed last year and will have to be revived this year upon the instruction of the President.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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