TRILLANES EYES CUTTING 2014 PSC BUDGET BY HALF

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SEN. Antonio Trillanes 4th is threatening to cut by half the proposed 2014 budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) “if it continues to release funds to a group of individuals claiming to be the legitimate elected officials of a recognized National Sports Association [NSA].”

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Trillanes, during the Senate deliberation of the 2014 proposed budget of the PSC confronted commission chairman Ricardo Garcia warning him against releasing funds to the group of Ting Ledesma, who is claiming to be the elected officials of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (Tatap).

Tatap leadership is currently the subject of a court case in the Regional Trial Court of Manila with two groups claiming to be the legitimate officials of the NSA. One faction is that of Ledesma’s and the other is that of Jacinto Omilla Jr., chairman of Tatap.

Trillanes is the current president of Tatap that recently filed a complaint against Garcia, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, of the Philippine Olympic Commission (POC), and other individuals before the office of the Ombudsman.

“My inclination is to cut your MOOE [maintenance and other operating expenses]by half during the budget deliberation on the plenary,” Trillanes told Garcia.

The PSC is asking P20 million for its MOOE for 2014 and Trillanes said he is planning to cut it by half or even lower if the PSC officials will continue releasing funds to the group of Ledesma.

Garcia, in a separate interview, said he would rather keep quiet and just wait for the Senate to approve the proposed PSC budget of P178 million.

“I don’t like to antagonize the good senator, we don’t want our budget to be cut because our athletes will be the ones to be affected by it,” he added.

The Senate Finance Committee submitted the proposed budget of the PSC to the  plenary and Trillanes is expected to introduce amendments to it once the chamber starts its plenary discussions when sessions resume on November18.

Garcia and Cojuangco are among the respondents on a graft and corruption complaint filed by Omilla last week before the office of the Ombudsman.

Also named as repondents were Salvador Andrada, Gillian Akiko Guevarra, Wigberto Clavecilla Jr., Ting Ledesma, Annie Andanar, Domingo Panlilio, Arnel Berroya and Ma. Theresa Diniega.

The case arose when the PSC released funds and issued checks to the group of Ledesma who supposedly misrepresented themselves as the officers of Tatap.

The funds were released despite a pending court case on the legitimacy of Tatap’s officers.

Garcia, responding to an inquiry of Tatap through its counsel, said the PSC officials admitted releasing funds amounting to      P2,327,465 to the Ledesma group despite his knowledge of the pending legitimacy issue.

Omilla said that this action made by the PSC violates the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or RA 3019, and clearly shows manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence.

Omilla said “prudence dictates that Garcia should have refrained from entertaining Ledesma’s group since there is a pending case at the court. He said Garcia did not only recognize the group but even released financial assistance to it enabling it to enjoy “unwarranted private benefits.”

In 2011, Tatap members voted to remove all the members of the board because of loss of confidence and subsequently elected a new board of trustees and officers.

Despite the said election, Ledesma, Andanar and Berroya misrepresented themselves as the newly elected officers of Tatap and in 2012, the POC recognized the group after a purported election held that same year.

Meanwhile, POC First Vice President Joey Romasanta said that Senator Trillanes should first look in the mirror before accusing the PSC of supporting bogus NSAs.

“If he is talking about a bogus NSA which we’re supporting, I guess he should take a look in the mirror and see what sport association he presently leads,” Romasanta said, referring to Trillanes’ Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP).

Trillanes is the present president of the BAP, a former NSA led by Graham Lim. BAP lost its POC accreditation through a General Assembly vote for causing the country great humiliation in an overseas meet in 2005.

The POC later recognized the Samahan ng Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), led by business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, as the new legitimate NSA for basketball. The SBP was also recognized by the FIBA, the world governing body on basketball.

“We’re supporting SBP and not BAP, so does Senator Trillanes thinks that SBP is a bogus NSA and not his BAP?” said Romasanta. “He just can’t simply hit Mr. Pangilinan that’s why he’s focusing on small national sport associations.”

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