FILIPINO athletes have the potential to become world-class athletes but unless major changes are introduced in sports, such capability will not be realized, according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th.
The senator said there is one stumbling block that is preventing the Philippines from taking off—Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, who he noted had continuously failed to improve the state of Philippine sports despite several years of heading the POC.
“He has no accomplishments as president of the POC. He has no plan to make better our Philippine sports. That is why it would be better if we can give the position to an individual who has vision and dedication,” Trillanes told The Manila Times.
Cojuangco, uncle of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, was reelected as POC president in 2012. He has held that position since 2005.
Trillanes explained that Cojuangco’s leadership has failed to provide a clear vision and concrete programs to steer the country to the right direction.
The senator however made it clear that he recognizes the talent of Filipino athletes and their dedication, moral courage, strength of character and competitive spirit. However, he said these attributed are not enough.
“We need a new champion for our sports programs who is gifted with vision and skills to instil grass roots development and promote sports excellence,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes, who used to head the Senate Committee on Amateur Sports, said that instead of coming up with plans on how to improve and develop Philippine sports, Cojuangco focused on politics in his desire to monopolize the power and control over national sports association.
The senator explained that because of the authority given to the POC, all national sports associations in the country can be dictated upon by the POC president and they are forced to follow it because they can easily be replaced if the POC head wants hem out.
“That is now the task of the existing NSAs (National Sports Associations), to make sure that they don’t get the ire of Peping Cojuangco otherwise they will be replaced. If they will be replaced, PSC will not release funds to them and they cannot send their athletes to international competitions,” the lawmaker explained.
Currently, there are 40 regular NSA members of the POC, five associate members and five recognized members.
Developing the right sports
The senator however noted that developing the right kind of sports bad on the Filipino physique is not the main objective of the national sports program although it is part of sport excellence.
He said that the primary objective is to get the people from all walks of life into sports. The PSC and POC failed to do this.
“Just getting people into sports is already an achievement,” he added.
Trillanes plans to call a Senate inquiry and invite PSC and POC officials and ask them about their accomplishments in the development of Philippines sports.
Trillanes is pushing for the establishment of the Department of Sports (DOS) in a bid to uplift the status of sports in the country.
In the 15th Congress, Trillanes filed Senate Bill No. 3092, or the Department of Sports Act of 2012.
However, his proposal was stuck at the committee level.
“Almost twenty-one years after the existence of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the expected improvement and development of Philippine sports is still wanting,” said Trillanes.
Under the Department of Sports are the Amateur Sports Development Bureau, which will focus on tapping and developing the grassroots level regardless of age and people with disability; and the International Sports Development Bureau, which is tasked to create a pool of national athletes.
“It is hoped that once the DOS is established, sports would once again become an integral component of youth development, a galvanizing force for national unity and a source of national pride,” Trillanes said, adding that he will be refilling the bill in the 16th congress.
He said that he already told the president that the problem of Philippine sports is his uncle, (Cojuangco).
“To be fair to the president, he cannot do anything about it because POC is not a
government agency,” he added.
Trillanes noted that there are other problems that need to be addressed in Philippine sports but solving them will be difficult as long as Cojuangco remains at the POC.
“So if Cojuangco will be removed, everything will follow, we can formulate a sports program free from the clutches of Peping Cojuangco. We can have a very good start,” he said.