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Carrion willing to resign if POC sets new polls

MANILA, Philippines — Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president and 2017 Southeast Asian Games chef de mission of the Philippine delegation Cynthia Carrion recently said she’s willing to resign her position as POC board member if the General Assembly votes to call for new elections to start a clean slate.

Carrion said if the POC Constitution will allow it, the General Assembly could hand down a vote of no-confidence on all the elected POC officials in the wake of the Philippines’ debacle in the recent SEA Games. “I’ll be ready to resign with all the other elected officials if that’s the call of the General Assembly,” she said. “Anyway, none of us has taken our oath of office since the election last year. We could do another election but we’ll need to check what is allowed by the POC Constitution under the guidance of the IOC.”

If the elected officials resign, the POC will be forced to call for new elections. This has never happened in POC history. In April 1999, the General Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence on Cristy Ramos as president on the basis of a 3/4 nod. A vote of no-confidence is preceded by a 2/3 consensus to remove or impeach an elected POC official. An official may be taken out of office only after a year of his or her election.

Carrion was at the forefront of the country’s participation in the last SEA Games. “Everybody did their best,” she said. “The NSA presidents estimated we would bring back 68 gold medals. I tempered the prediction a little bit by bringing down the expectation to 50. But still, we won only 24. There were several NSAs that overachieved and they deserve credit for their outstanding performance, in particular, athletics, boxing, men’s basketball and ice hockey. NSAs that didn’t live up to expectations included swimming, shooting and bowling.”

Carrion said on the logistics end, the Malaysian Organizing Committee or MASOC did its part to manage the event efficiently. “Every day, at 7 a.m., all the chefs de mission met with MASOC officials to make sure things were in order,” she said. “Our boxers complained they had no rice so that was solved. There were transportation problems and those were solved, too. Unfortunately, issues that involved competitions were difficult to fix. Eric Cray, for instance, couldn’t compete to the max because his three events were scheduled close to each other. In ice hockey, two of our players were initially ruled ineligible but they were eventually allowed to play but in the final, our captain was disqualified. Our team went out there to play against all odds with a lot of heart and we won.”

An issue that saddened Carrion was the removal of a Department of Tourism (DOT) presentation to mark the turnover of the hosting rights to the Philippines at the closing ceremonies. The presentation, featuring a “Tapestry of Colors,” would’ve put the Philippines on the limelight after President Duterte agreed to overrule a previous decision to back out of hosting the 2019 edition.

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“We worked so hard for this presentation,” said Carrion. “DOT approved a budget of P8.1 Million for 83 persons to perform in a 20-minute show. An opportunity like this comes rarely. The money was deposited to the POC account. Then came the decision to withdraw from hosting but there were efforts to overturn it. MASOC didn’t know if the presentation would push through or not. When the decision came to overturn, MASOC brought down our time of presentation to 10 minutes. We adjusted to bring in Freddie Aguilar to sing ‘Anak’ which was a huge hit in Malaysia and still kept the ‘Tapestry of Colors’ show.”

Carrion said she was later informed that the presentation would be scrapped. “I was advised that MASOC took it out but I used to meet with the MASOC officials, particularly Beng Choo Low, every day and I was never told of this decision,” she said. “So to this day, I don’t know what happened. With the reduced time of presentation, we probably would’ve spent about P5 Million so we still had money to return to DOT. Now, I hope the POC has given back the entire P8.1 Million to the DOT.”   

Without the DOT presentation, the closing ceremonies saw POC president Jose Cojuangco, Jr. and Foreign Affairs Secretary and 2019 SEA Games Organizing Committee chairman Alan Peter Cayetano accepting the flag in the turnover. A short film from PAGCOR was shown to highlight the Philippine beaches with no relevance to sports.

Carrion said in 2019, the Philippines will likely trim the sports in the calendar to 30.  She said she would recommend Brett Wightman of the Paulos Group to the POC as he undertook the rehabilitation of at least 15 sports facilities in Malaysia to prepare for the recent SEA Games.  Carrion said the country will be better prepared to host than the last time in 2005 with more facilities like the Philippine Arena and the SMX Convention Center.

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