Philippine Star - Politics stunts growth of Phl sports by Gerry Carpio


LONDON – POC president Peping Cojuangco gathered his anointed officials and led the march to Malacañang to endorse them to his nephew, the President.

Malacañang insiders said the power brokers could not decide on the chairman from a thick list of aspirants, but on their second try, the group got the nod.

The first announcement the PSC chairman issued was an “amnesty” he planned to give to all erring NSAs who had not liquidated millions of advances.

The POC-PSC partnership hardly solved the problem of funding, training and sports development. In the two years that followed, NSAs not close to the POC hierarchy had difficult access to the funds because they were now coursed through the POC.

And as the November POC elections are fast approaching, contenders are securing their bailiwick to get majority votes from the 40 regular NSA members, promising them support if elected. With politics added to the mix, the problem of sports will go on.

By putting itself at the disposal of the POC, the PSC antagonized many organizations, prominent of which is the athletics association of Go Teng Kok.

The usually loquacious Go, who was also elected karatedo president, was not recognized by the POC, with which he had long fallen out of grace. The case went to the courts and a vote of the majority in the POC General Assembly subsequently declared him a “persona non grata.”

The PSC became an unwitting participant in the POC quarrel. Go could not use the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex oval for the training of his athletes, who are quartered in the RMSC Tower beside it because it was now used by the Azkals. Neither could they gain access to the Ultra, which is under a state of disrepair because of the regular use of the field for football.

Not getting as much support for the foreign participation of his athletes abroad for London, Go would spend his personal money on top of what he shells out for the monthly salaries of his staff and other administrative expenses.

The PSC has also touched raw nerves in the sporting community. One of them is the swimming association.

In 2007, swimming association president Mark Joseph called up Arafura Games organizers to tell them Filipino swimmer Dale Echavez was not a member of his association. The organizer should not allow them to participate at the risk of being suspended by the international swimming federation. The organizers awarded the gold medal to the swimmer, then 12, and hastily removed it from her at backstage.

When PSC chairman Richie Garcia assumed, in a dual capacity, the role of chef de mission last year in the same multi-event competition, some of the members of the Philippine delegation included swimmers who were not members of PASA.

He thought everything was all right until the organizers received a text message from the PASA president telling them of the membership status of some members.?The “non-members” were allowed to swim in the heats but even those who qualified were not allowed to compete in the final. Garcia could not lift a finger and failed to prevail upon the swimming president.

Former senator Nikki Coseteng, who headed the swimming team of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, lodged a complaint with the Philippine ambassador to Australia, the Department of Justice and the President but no action was taken.

The latest controversy revolved around a new policy of the PSC requiring all associations to seek prior clearance from PASA before they could get travel tax and airport fee exemption to compete abroad.

These “small problems” are some of the day-to-day irritants that hamper the training of elite athletes and the promotion of sports.

The Senate again summoned sports officials this year, this time Garcia, to explain what’s going in the sport he is tasked to promote. The occasion was a statement of the POC discrediting the gold medal achievement of a rowing team in the world championships in Florida. The POC contended the team must not receive government bonuses because it is not a POC member, the tournament is not world class and the Filipinos were not the strongest.

Sensing the PSC chairman could not substantially answer questions without slinging mud at the POC, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, obviously impatient, asked: “Are you afraid of the POC?” The chairman admitted he owed his appointment to the uncle of the President.

The problem never ends.