• An urgent appeal to President Duterte

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    SUSAN PAPA

    SUSAN PAPA

    (Conclusion)
    The “An urgent appeal to President Duterte” article became a trending topic in social media and we are hoping this concluding part will further enlighten readers why the plea was made.

    William “Butch” Ramirez is not fit to assume the post of chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

    The 1987 Philippine Constitution is clear regarding the accountability of public officers: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”

    Our laws and jurisprudence has consistently adhered to the doctrine that “public service requires the utmost integrity and strictest discipline. A public servant must exhibit at all times, the highest sense of honesty and integrity, and utmost devotion and dedication to duty, respect the rights of others and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, and good morals.”

    Given these established standards enshrined in our Constitution, in our statutes and in our jurisprudence, the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) community firmly believes, that Ramirez has failed to meet these standards as former chairman of the PSC and thus, and with more reason, he cannot and must not be given another fresh mandate as chairman under the Duterte administration.

    Let me point out several strong reasons cited by the PSL community.

    Ramirez is now facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan together with his co-accused, former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman Efraim Genuino, Mark Joseph and others, for the anomalous release of P37 million worth of funds for the training of swimmers for the 2012 London Olympics.

    Ramirez, together with his co-accused, were indicted for one count of Violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, with regard to the unlawful direct release of public funds amounting to P37 million by PAGCOR to Philippine Amateur Swimming Association now Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PASA/PSi) and one count of Violation of Section 3 (e) of the same law, during the time when Ramirez was chairman of the PSC.

    While we recognize that every accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, we cannot deny the fact that these charges that Ramirez is now facing before the Sandiganbayan is like the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over his head, indicating the precariousness of his position.

    Ramirez is the one that directed PAGCOR to release public funds to PASA-PSi, as per his letter dated August 2007, notwithstanding his lack of legal authority to issue such directives.

    Moreover, being indicted before the Sandiganbayan as a former chairman of the PSC has put to great doubt, the moral ascendancy and fitness of Ramirez to again take the helm of the very institution, the integrity of which has been questioned under his leadership.

    To say the least, the appointment of Ramirez as chairman for the second time, in the face of all these charges he is now facing before the Sandiganbayan, is the greatest irony and injustice that can happen in Philippine sports.

    Also, in 2009, Ramirez resigned from the post after the country’s dismal performance in the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China.

    It is significant to mention also what other cases filed against Ramirez were discovered by parents of PSL swimmers.

    In 2009:
    PHILIPPINE SPORTS COMMISSION
    Duly represented herein by its Chairman,
    AMB. HARRY C. ANGPING
    Complainant-Affiant,
    versus
    CPL-C-09-2047
    For: PLUNDER (under R.A, 7080 as amended)
    CONG. MONICO O. PUENTEVELLA, Representation, Lone District of Bacolod, and Chairman, Bacolod Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (BASOC) and WILLIAM I. RAMIREZ, former Chairman, Philippine Sports Commission Respondents.

    In 2010:
    PHILIPPINE SPORTS COMMISSION,
    Rep. by: Atty. Paul S. Vega
    Complainant,
    versus
    OMB-C-C-09-0709-L
    For: Malversation of Public Funds and Violation of RA 3019 (Criminal Case)
    WILLIAM I. RAMIREZ
    JOSE COJUANGCO, JR.
    STEPHEN HONTIVEROS
    JOSE CAPISTRANO, JR.
    ERNESTO ORTIZ LUIS
    Respondents.

    With due respect, the PSL community believes that the appointment of Ramirez as PSC chairman is a bane and not a boon to the Duterte administration which promises that change is coming to our beloved country. Appointing Ramirez is not the change we expect.

    The PSL community believes that there are other men and women who possessed unquestionable integrity and proven competence, and who can lead the PSC to perform its mandate under the law.

    The PSL community believes that His Excellency, President Rodrigo Duterte, will listen to the appeal of the parents, the coaches and the young Filipino swimmers who supported his presidency and trusted his promise of change.

    Philippine sports is crying for real change.

    This change should start in the PSC leadership.

    This change is not in the person of Mr. William “Butch” Ramirez.

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