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PSC chair hands-off on POC rally

Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez.

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William Ramirez is neither for or against the protest rally being led by PSC commissioner Ramon Fernandez against the leadership of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Fernandez, one of the great Filipino basketball players ever, is the most vocal critic of POC president Jose Cojuangco, and has in a number of times called for the resignation of the long-time POC chief.

A rally being dubbed “Peace and Change in Philippine Sports,” which comes after the country’s woeful finish in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, is set on Sept. 21, which falls on the anniversary of the 1972 declaration of Martial Law in the country.

“I hope that all those who love sports will come out... to call for unity, hoping that the POC leadership will see the light,” said Fernandez, who is also calling on “sports lovers” from Mindanao, especially Cebu City, to stage their own version of the rally.

From 9 a.m. until noon on Sept. 21, the rally will take place at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, where the PSC holds office.

Ramirez said while he is willing to listen to the opinions of those joining the rally, he clarified that he’s not behind the move.

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“As the highest sports official of government I don’t have a say for them to go (join) or not to go. That’s their prerogative. Perhaps it would be good to listen to them and their opinions,” said Ramirez.

The PSC chief, who hails from Davao City, said the actions of Fernandez do not represent the entire PSC board, composed of the chairman and four commissioners.

“While we are one board, we are all presidential appointees. The action of one commissioner is not collective because there was no board resolution that one commissioner will approve the rally. It’s an individual action,” said Ramirez.

“I will leave it that way. That’s the freedom of commissioner Fernandez and other officials. I never had an actual discussion with them and there was never a dialogue on that aspect,” he added.

It’s not the first time that members of the sports community had gone up in arms against the country’s top sports leaders, whether it’s with the PSC, the government sports agency, and the POC, a private institution.

“There was a rally made by the coaches and athletes against a (previous PSC) board, and the board did not stop the plan for an assembly because it’s provided for by our constitution,” said Ramirez.

Cojuangco has ignored calls for his resignation, and said after the recent SEA Games that it’s time to look forward to the country’s hosting of the 2019 edition of the biennial event.

The POC chief is scheduled to leave tomorrow morning with the 104-strong Philippine delegation to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan.

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