• POC and NSAs cannot be above the law

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    SUSAN PAPA

    With the ongoing conflict between the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), it is imperative for me to state the following once more for better understanding of stakeholders in Philippine sports.

    During the Third Regular Session that was held in Metro Manila on the 24th of July 2000, the following law was brought into focus:

    Republic Act No. 6847—An act creating and establishing the Philippine Sports Commission, defining its powers, functions and responsibilities, appropriating funds therefore, and for other purposes.

    Section 1 Declaration of Policy —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 excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry through a 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.

    Section 2 Creation of the Philippine Sports Commission—To carry out the above policy, a body corporate known as the Philippine Sports Commission, hereinafter referred to as the Commission, is hereby created and established.

    Section 3 Status of the Commission—The Commission shall have the same status as that of a governmental regulatory national agency attached to the Office of the President with the Chairman thereof being of the same level as a department undersecretary and the Commissioners that of department assistant secretaries.

    In comparison, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is a private, non-governmental organization. The POC is likewise composed of and serves as the mother organization of all National Sports Associations (NSAs) that are members of the POC.

    There are many cases of NSAs and its officials not functioning according to law. For instance, Mark Powell Joseph, president of the Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSi), which is an NSA under the POC, has a criminal case for child abuse in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court filed by Paul Jerome. Joseph posted bail for his temporary liberty while on trial. Another case against Joseph was also filed in the Office of the Ombudsman, and has already been forwarded to the Sandigan Bayan. A warrant of arrest was issued and Joseph is now at large and has yet to post bail for his temporary liberty.

    Senator Nikki Coseteng in partnership with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption led by its Founding Chairman and President Dante Jimenez supports Senate Resolution No. 229 of Senator Sonny Angara. A Senate inquiry is not only timely and long overdue considering the POC’s blatant abuse of authority and misuse of public funds that is damaging Philippine sports.

    On the issue of alleged unliquidated funds received by the POC from the PSC, the following must be done:

    1. The POC must liquidate and account for the government funds it received from the PSC.

    2. The PSC must no longer fund the POC for its failure to liquidate the money it received from the government in accordance with the law. Moreover, while the law recognizes the autonomy of the POC and an NSA, the PSC should not lose sight of the fact that their role is to protect public interest. The agency must ensure that there is no anomaly in the use of public funds and that there should be no room for politics and patronage in Philippine sports. More importantly, all their actions must not be contrary to law.

    3. The POC must also explain the sorry state of Philippine sports particularly in terms of performance in the international arena despite government support.

    4. The inquiry should also look into the practice of some NSAs of requiring athletes to pay for their expenses when competing in international competitions. Joseph’s PSi, for instance, reportedly collects $1,500 from every swimmer who is competing in the SEAage group.

    5. The inquiry should likewise look into the alleged control and influence of POC over NSAs to keep in power its president Peping Cojuangco, Jr.

    In closing, allow me to repeat the pertinent provision in the Powers of the Commission:

    “To exercise supervisory, visitorial and disciplinary powers over national sports associations in connection with their sports promotions and development programs with respect to those which financial assistance is extended by the Commission. (Section 3. Suspend the grant of financial assistance and other privileges to an NSA with intra-corporate conflict and/or suspended by the POC), however POC themselves is not in good standing.

    To impose sanctions upon any national sports associations, institutions, association, body, entity, team, athlete and sports official for violation of its policies, rules and regulations.”

    Definitely, the POC and the NSAs cannot be above the law!

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