As we earnestly make an urgent call for change amid the woes besetting Philippine sports, the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) is humbly making the following recommendations to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte:
One, stop the culture of patronage and politics in Philippine sports.
Needless to state, the greatest roadblock to the success of Philippine sports is the persistent moral depravity in our sports institutions, which is aggravated by the wanton disregard of government officials of their mandate and duties under the law.
Politics and patronage in Philippine sports destroy the professional competence and effectiveness of government sports agencies.
In the past, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has miserably failed to provide the leadership in the development of national sports particularly on grassroots level.
Worse, it failed to function as an effective government regulatory agency. This is very much felt in the swimming community.
PSC has turned a deaf ear to young Filipino swimmers whose only dream is to compete freely and pursue excellence in their chosen sport. PSC has continued to work with and follow the dictates of Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSI) President Mark Joseph despite the fact that the latter is facing corruption charges in the Office of the Ombudsman.
While the law recognizes the autonomy of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the different National Sports Associations (NSA), PSC should not forget that it couldn’t act with impunity regarding biased and irresponsible use of public funds. There should be no room for politics and patronage in Philippine sports.
Two, the organizational overhaul of the PSC.
Senator Nikki Coseteng has filed cases before the Office of the Ombudsman against the officers of the PSC for gross ignorance, neglect and abandonment of duty and violation of Section 3 (E) of RA 3019.
Senator Coseteng has likewise filed a case in the Office of the Ombudsman against former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino, PSI President Mark Joseph, and former PSC Chairman William Ramirez.
The case was about the P37 million budget for swimmers that was diverted to a private company (allegedly funneled from the sports association to a private company owned by former Chairman and CEO of the state gaming corporation).
Against this backdrop, it is evident that there is clearly a great need for change in the leadership of the PSC.
The new PSC leaders and officers who will be appointed must possess competence, proven integrity and genuine passion to bring Philippine sports to greater heights.
Three, democratize Philippine swimming.
To complement the organizational overhaul of the PSC, there is a need to revisit the rules and regulations as stated in RA 6847, the law that created the PSC.
Contentious provisions like the visitorial and disciplinary powers of the PSC vis-à-vis, the primary responsibility of the POC and the NSA, as well as provisions on travel tax exemptions, among others, should be clarified.
These rules and regulations should be consistent with and supportive of the declared policy of the state to promote and develop a national sports program without the oppressive and ridiculous imposition of the membership requirement and “unauthorized relation” policy by the NSA.
The preposterous and unfair policy of the PSC to deny travel tax exemption to young Filipino swimmers participating in international competitions must be stopped once and for all.
PSC must not surrender its authority to the NSAs, otherwise, it will lose its raison d’ etre as a government agency under RA 6847.
We believe that only President-elect Rodrigo Duterte can bring about the above changes in Philippine Sports. We are confident that he can put an end to the vicious cycle of corruption, patronage, politics and power play in Philippine sports.
At the end of the day, what we want to see is a truly democratic sports-for-all program, without fear or favor.
To guide our actions in effecting these changes, we can perhaps refer to these simple and clear provision under Article 14, Section 19 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that states: “The State shall promote physical education and encourage sports programs, league competitions and amateur sports, including training for international competitions, to foster self-discipline, teamwork and excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry.”
The Philippine Swimming League community believes that under the Duterte administration, change is coming.
It’s about time. Philippine swimming has a lot of catching up to do.