(First of two Parts)
Philippine Swimming League (PSL) Chairman and former Senator Anna Dominique Coseteng made an urgent plea to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and the Philippine government to sanction and suspend sports officials who are abusing their power.
Coseteng filed a letter of complaint last week to the PSC against the Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSi), the national sports association (NSA) for swimming, and its President Mark Powell Joseph, as well as against the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). A part of Coseteng’s letter reads:
“Declaration of Policy. Under Section 2 of its charter, Republic Act No. 6847, (An Act Creating and Establishing the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Defining its powers, Functions and Responsibilities, Appropriating Funds therefore, and For Other Purposes) provides, “It is the policy of the state to promote physical education, encourage and sustain the development of sports in the country to foster physical fitness, self-discipline teamwork and unified national sports promotion and development program, and that the establishment and creation of a single, unified and integrated national sports policy-making body shall further this objective.
We were moved by the call for change and transformation under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, as the Philippine swimming community has finally united to make this call. Now is the time to be heard. We must listen to the young Filipino swimmers, their parents and coaches as they speak.
There are issues and considerations of transcendental and grave import in the swimming community urging articulation since, we assume, they are beyond your awareness and we are really concerned that great disservice may be caused to the national interest if these are submerged from your view.
Wittingly or otherwise, our government is injured by fraudulent practices and unremitting efforts to cheat. The country’s program for the development of swimming as a sport was not spared. Millions of Pesos have been and continued to be drawn from government funds purportedly for the swimmers, only to be used for corrupt purposes. These funds are as much in need of protection as any other government money. To close our eyes to this prevailing situation is to condone fraud against the government treasury and to go against the interests of our young swimmers in particular, and the Filipino people and our country in general.
The man, Mark Powell Joseph, responsible for this act does not even have the saving grace of support from his constituency and is being tolerated by POC. He is a fugitive of the land. He is at large as far as the Sandiganbayan is concerned, as he has not posted bail. In November 2016, a social media showed Mark Powell Joseph in Dubai, UAE.
Mark Joseph’s ascent to the presidency of PSi has since been seriously questioned and rightly so, because it is bereft of any legal basis. But it matters little now that his assumption to the presidency of PSi is highly questionable. WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT NOW IS THAT HIS ABUSES AND DISHONEST PRACTICES MUST BE PUT TO A STOP, PERMANENTLY. By falsely implicating FINA rules, his leadership is marred by arbitrariness, oppressiveness and official indiscretion: young swimmers were unjustly stripped of medals, accused of having fake Philippine passports; participating in international and community swimming competitions were stopped/prohibited and coaches seeking further education were threatened of suspension. Without belaboring the matter further, it is plain to us that he is not fit for the position which in the first place he illegally assumed. He neither had the gift of leadership nor possessed the influence and moral force, which could solidify the swimming association to better and faster achieve out national goals.
The culture of patronage and politics in Philippine sports must be destroyed and stopped.
Needless to state, the greatest roadblock in the long and arduous journey of Philippine sports to national and international excellence is the persistent moral depravity of our sports institutions which is aggravated by the wanton disregard of government officials of their mandate and duties under the law of the past administration.
These are the tragic consequences of politics and patronage in Philippine sports which destroy the professional competence and effectiveness of government agencies.
During the past administration, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has miserably failed to provide the leadership in the development of national sports particularly on grassroots participation.
Worse, it failed to function as an effective government regulatory agency.
PSC in the past has turned a deaf ear to the voices of young Filipino swimmers whose only dream is to swim freely and pursue excellence in their chosen field. 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 before the Office of the Sandigan Bayan and Child Abuse Case in Regional Trial Court, Quezon City.
There should be no room for politics and patronage in Philippine sports.”
(To be continued)