As the country is set to host the Southeast Asian Games this year, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday called on sports officials to end the heated row amid the controversy hounding the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

In a statement, Panelo expressed support for current POC president Ricky Vargas and chairman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and called for an end to the self-serving drama at this time.

“We call on everyone to insulate sports from politics,” he said.

“We should be together rallying behind and supporting all the Filipino athletes who are set to compete in the games as we extend our world-famous warmth and hospitality to our brothers and sisters in the region who are coming to Manila either to participate and represent or cheer their nations,” he added.

The debacle within the POC reached a different level when Vargas shook up some crucial positions, including the firing of former President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco as constitutional amendments committee chairman, and Makati representative Monsour del Rosario as the Philippine SEA Games team’s chef de mission.

Vargas also called for an early POC general election in January next year, a month after the SEA Games. (PNA)

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