[PHOTO AT LEFT - Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco Jr.]

MANILA, JUNE 4, 2010 (STAR) The Philippine Olympic Committee yesterday signified its intention to join the other countries bidding to host the 2015 Southeast Asian Games after Singapore backed out of its turn due to lack of facilities.

“It seems that all the countries want to host it so we’re also preparing our own proposal in the next few months,” said POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr.

This came about after the SEAG Federation awarded the hosting rights of the 2013 SEAG to Myanmar in a meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia last May 29.

The country last hosted the biennial meet in 2005 where the Filipinos emerged the overall champions for the first time.

The Singapore withdrawal opened the bidding war for the SEAG hosting with the Filipinos hoping to beat early hopefuls Vietnam and Brunei.

The Vietnamese last hosted the 11-nation conclave seven years ago while Brunei staged the event in 1999.

Myanmar, an original member, will host the games for the first time, leaving Cambodia and East Timor as the only SEAG members that have yet to host the region’s premier sporting meet.

Myanmar, then Burma, actually hosted the SEAG’s precursor, the Southeast Asia Peninsular Games, twice in Rangoon in 1961 and 1969.

The SEAG hosting used to rotate among member-countries. The Philippines hosted it three times – 1981, 1991 and 2005.

The sequence changed when the SEAGF allowed other member countries to host the Games like Brunei (1999), Vietnam (2003) and more recently Laos (2009).

Aside from the 2015 SEAG bid, Cojuangco said the POC will pursue its plan of constructing a state-of-the-art training center in Tarlac.

The Olympic Council of Asia has donated $50,000 for the POC to begin the groundwork of the training center where the POC plans to house all national athletes.

In another development, Cojuangco said that the delay in the appointment of a new Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman will not disrupt the country’s preparations for November’s Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

Reacting to PSC chairman Harry Angping’s call for president-apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to name his successor soon, Cojuangco said the athletes’ preparation in international competitions does not in any way revolve around who is at the PSC helm.

“If we look at the intent of the law, the primary function of the PSC is funding. Why will a turnover ahead of time be necessary?” said Cojuangco in his weekly radio program.

Angping the other day said the immediate appointment of a new chairman is necessary so as not to hinder the athletes’ preparation for the Asiad set Nov. 12-28.

Angping had also suggested that the next chairman should retain his programs for the rest of the year.

“That’s really his opinion,” Cojuangco said.

A ranking sports official recently said that there are around 50 candidates for the posts of the PSC chairman and four commissioners.

Heading the early roster of contenders for the top PSC post are POC spokesperson Joey Romasanta and former PSC chair Philip Ella Juico.

“These are people who are really aware of what’s going on in sports,” said Cojuangco, uncle of Aquino. – With report from Reuben Terrado

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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