IN what many consider as a miracle, facilities owned and operated by the Philippine Sports Commission have been completely refurbished and are ready for use in the 30th Southeast Asian Games starting on Nov. 30.
Over the weekend, PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez announced the completion of repair work on the Rizal Coliseum, Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Rizal Football Field, and the RMSC lawn tennis court at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the facilities at the Philsports in Pasig City.
“We were on target,” Ramirez said. “We gave the people an assurance that we will finish the competition areas and our various teams in the PSC did their jobs well. They delivered.”
These facilities, Ramirez said, were not originally intended for the SEA Games hosting.
The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee had wanted all disciplines held at the Subic and Clark complexes, including the newly-built New Clark City, which is owned and managed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
“But several of their facilities were not up to International Federation standards. And since the PSC-owned facilities have been used for international events many times in the past and have met the IF requirements, it was a no-brainer that some of the SEA Games events are hosted at our venues,” Ramirez said.
“These are very old venues, we admit. But the history that wraps every leaves and grass around these facilities speak of the heroism of our athletes. We deemed it right to put the venues back in their original forms,” Ramirez added.
While the Phisgoc is in charge of running the whole SEA Games, Ramirez made sure the training of the Filipino athletes competing in the biennial meet were funded by the agency tasked by government to look after their welfare.
“We have spent more than a billion pesos for the athletes’ training alone. We are not looking just at the SEA Games, we are also funding their training for possible Olympic slots, in Tokyo and beyond,” Ramirez said.
For the rehabilitation of the various PSC-owned facilities, Ramirez thanked the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. for the P800 million aid that was used to rehabilitate the venues.
“The Pagcor aid was the biggest boost to our drive in rehabilitating our venues. Pagcor Chairman Andrea Domingo made sure that money was spent well, wisely and prudently,” Ramirez said.
The Philippines last hosted the SEA Games in 2005, the third since the 1981 and 1991 Games, with Ramirez at the helm of its management. The Philippines won the overall championship that year, the first time the country won the honor.