MANILA, October 3, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - The government, which has been shouldering most of the expenses as the country prepares for its hosting of the SEA Games, will have to cough up millions of pesos more for the cash incentives of the victorious Filipino athletes.

Under Republic Act 9064, each gold medal for the Philippines in the Games scheduled Nov. 27 to Dec. 5 will be worth P100,000. A silver medalist will be awarded P50,000 and a bronze winner will take home P25,000.

If the early prediction made by sports officials comes true, that the Philippines will be good for a high of 171 and a low of 109 gold medals for the biennial meet, then the government cash box will certainly be ringing before Christmas.

"If our athletes indeed win 171 gold medals, then thatís an equivalent of P17 million. And weíre not even counting the silver and bronze medals to be won," said Harry Angping, head of the SEA Games Task Force.

Angping, however, said the amount is just a drop in the bucket as compared to the government expenses for the planning and actual staging of the Games, which the country is hosting only for the third time after 1981 and 1991.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez recently dashed insinuations that government support to the SEA Games, in terms of cold cash, is weak. He said itís the government thatís been footing the bill so far.

"There have been statements that government contributions to our hosting are weak," said the chairman of the PSC, the governmentís funding arm in sports.

"The President had given P300 million via DBM (Department of Budget and Management). I donít want to go into details but the PSC will spend another P150 to P200 million for the training, venues and equipment," he said.

The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee said it needs at least a billion pesos for the event and had announced long ago that government contribution should only amount to 30 percent of the expenses.

Philsoc, under Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, said 70 percent of the funding will come from the private sector. But it has failed to lure all its intended sponsors barely 50 days to the Games, leaving it almost "cash-strapped" and with only the government to turn to.

"What Philsoc needs, we give it to them," added Ramirez.

Of the total budget, Philsoc, as previously announced by Steve Hontiveros of bowling, plans to spend around P300 to P450 million for security.

Many believe that itís quite too much off the total budget since itís also the government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police, and not a private army or the FBI, which will handle security. NOTES: Even this top Philsoc official seems to be clueless on the disappearance of the giant SEA Games billboard at the corner of Edsa and Roxas Blvd. fronting the Heritage Hotel. Itís sudden disappearance at a time when the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee should be putting up more leaves the one at the main gate of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex as the only existing SEA Games billboard in Manila, the main hub of the Games. ĎOw? Yung kaisa-isa nating billboard doon nawala pa? Bakit kaya?í said this debonair official who sounded more amused than concerned about the issue. Itís time for Philsoc to step up its public awareness campaign with the Games just 55 days away. Philsoc announced last Thursday that SEA Games streamers, posters and hopefully, billboards, would come out soon. Everything remains to be seen.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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