Senator Cayetano carps government sports policies

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POLITICS is the reason why the Philippine Dragon Boat team, one of the country’s hopes for gold medal in the 2013 South East Asian (SEA) Games will not be joining the Philippine delegates in Myanmar this December.

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Senator Pia Cayetano, during the committee hearing on the status of the country’s preparations for the SEA Games, questioned Philippine sports officials regarding its selection process after learning the Dragon Boat team as well as women’s volleyball and men’s football teams are among those that would not be joining this year’s SEA Games.

Cayetano said that although she understand the limitations and restrictions of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) regarding the selection of athletes endorsed by the National Sports Associations (NSAs) it should come up with means to make sure that those deserving athletes will not be under the mercy of their NSAs.

“We’re asking them [PSC and POC] to go the extra mile and we’d like to think that they will be doing that because they would have our support,” Cayetano said in an interview after the committee hearing last week.

Noelle Wenceslao, the assistant team captain of the Dragon Boat team, said that the entire team was terminated by its NSA, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF), after raising their grievances against its officials.

Wenceslao expressed belief that their termination could be part of the retaliation of the PCKF official they questioned and the sad part is that it is the NSA that has the authority to choose athletes that will be endorsed to PSC.

The POC headed Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, already formed an arbitration committee to look into the complaint of Philippine dragon boat team last July but has yet to come up with a resolution on the matter.

Because of the decision of the NSA to terminate the Dragon Boat team, the allowances being received by its members have also been suspended.

Besides the Dragon Boat team, the women’s volleyball team and the men’s football team were also denied their chance to represent the country in the SEA Games supposedly because of poor performances in the past meets.

Cayetano said that the Philippine Volleyball Federation, the country’s NSA for the sport, is also facing various issues for years but she insisted that the blame should not fall on the players, “It is not the fault of volley ball players why the NSA is having an issue and it is the obligation of the government and as well as the POC, as an independent body, to promote the sport and intervene to resolve the issue.”

Cayetano further noted that the PSC and POC should not only base its selection process on the athletes’ chances of getting medals or their experiences instead teams should be given the chance to compete in order for them to gain the needed exposure.

Meanwhile, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara has filed a resolution seeking to look into the current state of Philippine sports to address the need for a “long-term, stakeholder-driven and sustainable” sports program.

Angara lamented that the Philippines has yet to win a gold medal in the Olympic games since joining in 1924, and that the country’s last Olympic victory was the historic silver medal in boxing in 1996. Meanwhile, in the SEA Games, he noted that since the Philippines made its first-ever overall championship title in 2005, the country has dropped to sixth-place finish in 2007, fifth in 2009, and sixth in 2011.

He said the first thing the government should do is to invest more in sports just like out neighbors in the region. According to the Angara, Singapore and Indonesia have allocated P8.5 billion each for their national sports program, Thailand with P4.2 billion, Malaysia with P1.2 billion. The Philippine government on the other hand allocated only P883 million for its sports program.

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