It is propitious and timely that the Philippine Senate, through its committee on sports, is conducting a hearing on the problematic situation facing Philippine sports today, as the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) prepares to hold its quadrennial elections and elects a president on November 25. And we urge Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, committee chairman, to convene the hearing posthaste, lest sports governance reform is trumped by the calendar.
While Senator Angara’s resolution calling for the inquiry focuses on the POC’s unliquidated funds from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the controversies surrounding the coming POC elections are more urgent.
There is a vital national interest at stake in the POC’s electoral exercise, and it will be overlooked absent a serious national hearing, because the POC is determined to hide its dismal record and disgusting practices from the light, in order to ensure for itself and its rulers another four- year reign over the nation’s sports.
Serious questions must be asked and answered. And there is no better way to do this than a public hearing.
Among these questions are:
1. Why is current POC president, Jose Cojuangco Jr, at the age of 82, standing for election to another term, after having already served three four-year terms?
What is his true record as chief governor of Philippine sports? What has he achieved for people and country, and why does he imagine that the nation cannot dispense with his leadership?
If Cojuangco gets what he desires, national sports could become the one sector of national life which is ruled by a president for life?
It is perverse that in this sector where youth and athleticism are keys to excellence and success, there persist at the apex of our sports communities, men and women who should have retired long ago.
2. Why are Cojuangco and his gang preventing other sports leaders from contending for the leadership positions of the POC, and from injecting new life and hope in our country’s sporting life? Why did this POC mafia manufacture medieval rules and regulations to disqualify challengers?
3. The Philippines earns by right as a full- fledged IOC member a regular share of IOC‘s vast revenues. This regular funding is handled by the POC. How is the fund used, by whom, and for what purpose?
Is Cojuangco’s insistence on retaining the POC presidency motivated by the desire to retain command and control over the IOC funding?
4. What are the respective roles of the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in the governance of national sports? How are they supposed to work together?
How is public money utilized for the advancement of sports? What portion of public funding is used to support the work of the POC?
For the longest time, the POC has gotten away with murder by propagating the fiction that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) disapproves of government involvement or intervention of government in sports.
This is nonsense. The vitality of Philippine sports is legitimately and primarily the responsibility of the government. It is right that Congress appropriates funds annually for sports development. And it is important that government efforts are complemented by the private sector and citizen action.
We believe many sports athletes and sports leaders will answer these questions differently than Mr. Cojuangco and his gang at the POC.
If Cojuangco and company have a case to make for continuing at the helm, they should present it at the Senate.
If other sports leaders, including the media, have a contrary case to present, they should similarly be heard.
What has been plotted for November 25 is an ugly POC election that may seal the fate of Philippine sports for years and years to come. The Senate inquiry should expose the ugliness and ventilate what should be the way forward.