BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — Citing more pressing concerns, President Aquino has begged off from attending the first leg of the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match between the Philippines and Mongolia on Wednesday night (February 9) at the Panaad Stadium here.
The information was relayed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer by Philippine Olympic Committee chair Monico Puentevella, who said that Aquino expressed regrets for missing what has been considered as the most important match in the team’s history.
Puentevella, along with Philippine Sports Commission Chair Richie Garcia, had invited Aquino to see the match, which is expected to draw about 18,000 fans.
While his presence will be missed, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said Aquino’s imprints have been all over the staging of the match.
The President, he said, gave a “substantial” amount to the organizers of the Azkals’ first home game in Bacolod in five years.
The last time the Azkals played here was in 2006 when they beat Brunei, 4-1, to make the main tournament of the Asean Football Federation Championship.
“President Aquino has expressed his regrets for not being able to come,” Puentevella said. “The country has so many problems that he has to attend to.”
A reliable source from the local organizing committee said that Aquino might be represented by elder sister Ballsy.
Speculations that the President was not coming heightened on Monday because no one from the Presidential Security Group had done a routine check at the Panaad.
However, Aquino’s absence will ease one security concern for organizers, who will deploy about 1,000 police and military personnel to secure the playing venue.
Puentevella said the 10,000 general-admission seats at the Panaad should easily be filled, citing the high demand for tickets.
Araneta has allotted 3,000 general admission tickets to the host province, which owns the Panaad. Several PFF-member associations will share 2,000.
Originally posted on 02.07.11 by