Steve Hontiveros claims no POC mess
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros yesterday insisted there was no misuse of funds during the previous administration and explained that the unliquidated amount of $59,963 with the IOC affiliate Olympic Solidarity will soon be resolved because the money is intact even if the settlement is overdue.

Hontiveros said of the unliquidated amount, the big chunk of $22,500 was earmarked for an organizational study supposed to be undertaken by former POC deputy secretary-general Mark Joseph. “The study was never made but the money is intact,” said Hontiveros, pointing to POC treasurer Julian Camacho as the account keeper. “The money will be given back to Olympic Solidarity with no problem.”

Another unliquidated portion of $1,463 is what was left from a release of $10,000 to an NSA that Hontiveros couldn’t recall. “That amount is also intact,” he said. Finally, the unliquidated amount of $36,000 for logistics and transportation in relation to the 2016 Rio Olympics is ready for settlement, claimed Hontiveros. A source said the amount was used to pay for the flights and per diems of three POC officials and one official’s wife.

Hontiveros said the Philippine delegation’s chef de mission to the Rio Olympics Joey Romasanta liquidated the $36,000 by email but Olympic Solidarity didn’t accept it. “Liquidation by email used to be allowed but now, there’s a new process,” said Hontiveros. “So Joey will do it all over again with the new process. In fairness, I admit there was an administrative shortcoming in the delay of the liquidation. But there was no misuse of money. There is no mess. I’ve been involved with the POC for over 10 years and if I wanted to steal any money, I should’ve done it long ago. Wala akong binulsa na pera. I’ve always been a firm believer of doing what is right. For me, what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong.”

POC president Ricky Vargas raised the issue of the unliquidated amount at an Executive Board meeting last Thursday but neither former POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. nor Camacho attended. They could’ve cleared the air on the financial situation with their presence. “I don’t know why Julian didn’t go,” said Hontiveros. “But what I know is the meeting was reset from Sept. 5 to Sept. 13 at short notice. During my term, meetings are scheduled way ahead of time for the entire year.”

POC communications director Ed Picson said Romasanta, auditor Jonne Go, Rep. Butch Pichay and Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski sent regrets that they couldn’t attend the meeting but there was no word from Cojuangco or Camacho. “We all just came back from the Asian Games but there was ample time to prepare for the meeting,” said Picson.

Talk of a brewing coup to muster a vote of no-confidence on Vargas’ administration was quickly dismissed by Picson. “No truth to the rumor,” he said. “A vote of no-confidence is only possible after a year in office. What Mr. Vargas is asking for is transparency and accountability, that’s all. Mr. Vargas is open to sit down with any NSA that has concerns.”

Picson said the Executive Board will be convened the morning before the lunch meeting of the General Assembly on Sept. 27. “Concerns and issues may be taken up by the Executive Board and the General Assembly,” he said. “Regarding the SEA Games, meetings are being held twice or thrice a week and things are moving. Construction of facilities is ongoing at Clark and we’re on track in following a strict timetable.”

As for the unliquidated amount with Olympic Solidarity, Picson said those accountable must come forward and settle all outstanding items with no further delays. “In some expenses, there is a moral issue involved,” he said. “Whether the money was spent judiciously or not should also be looked into.”

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