Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fund lack hampers SEAG preparations

No site yet for Philsoc secretariat, media center

By eddie alinea MB

Five months before the country hosts the 23rd Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) is still looking for shelter and cold cash to start the repair of the main venues.

Saddled with the enormity of raising a minimum of P1 billion to fund the Games, the Philsoc is battling against time to keep the engine humming.

Yet, Philsoc chairman Roberto "Obet" Pagdanganan was a picture of confidence and optimism when he came into the weekly forum of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) yesterday.

Pagdanganan reported that Philsoc has so far raised P367 million from the private sector, but conceded that they need P200 million of the P300 million pledged by President Macapagal-Arroyo earlier to start the rehabilitation of the Games’ main venues.

The former tourism secretary said they have requested Malacañang to release the funds so that work can start for the renovation of the Rizal Memorial and Paglaum sports complexes.

At the same time, the Philsoc has yet to decide where to house the main secretariat, main press center, International Broadcasting Center and the offices of Philsoc’s working committees.

Pagdanganan disclosed talks with the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) bogged down after Philsoc labeled the P6 million rental fee exorbitant.

The PICC served as the nerve center when the country last hosted the Games in 1992.

"Our first option is still the PICC, but should negotiations bog down, we have to think of alternative sites for the main secretariat," he said.

Among the sites being considered are the World Trade Center and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) building along Roxas Boulevard.

The P367 million raised so far by the Philsoc represents less than 40 percent of the minimum P1 billion requirement needed to host the Nov. 27-Dec. 5 conclave.

But Pagdanganan said with the addition of the P300 million pledged by government and P150 million from the Senate and House Representatives, the goal is attainable.

"The P367 million is practically all signed up. We have already closed deals with at least seven sponsors and we are ready to sign memorandum of agreement with Yonex, SMC-Coca Cola, Air 21, Shakey’s, Jollibee and KFC this week or early next week," said Pagdanganan.

He said talks are under way for the entry of the Lucio Tan Group of Companies.

The Philsoc is also expecting P50 million from the Senate and up to P100 million from the Lower House.

As far as preparations are concerned, Pagdanganan claimed that everything is on track with the public awareness scheme to kick off in the next few weeks.

One of the activities the Philsoc is thinking of participating is the Independence Day celebration on June 12.

A program with the theme, "Team Philippines, Dugong Bayani," is being mapped out to depict the Filipinos’ heroism.

The Olympic Run set June 26 in celebration of the founding of the International Olympic Movement, will also be used as part of the drumming up program, according to Red Dumuk, head of the Philippine Olympic Committee Sports for All Commission.

Pagdanganan urged the people to support the Games.

"Nananawagan din ako sa ating mga kababayan na suportahan din ang ating mga atleta. Ang SEA Games ay isang ginintuang pagkakataon hindi lamang para ipakita natin sa ting mga kapit-bayan ang ating kakayahan magdaos at mag-organisa ng ganitong kalaking event kundi para ipakita rin ang kakayahan ng ating mga atleta na manalo," he said.


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