Why is it that Filipino athletes have fared poorly in international competitions (except boxing, taekwondo and karate, although the last named has also become problematic)
since the last time we hosted the Southeast Games in 1995?
The answer—as we have shown, with graphs and charts, in special reports over the past two years—is the introduction of the regime of political and personal power trippers in control of Philippine sports development and participation in international competitions.
These days, the power-tripping appears to emanate from the Philippine Olympic Committee, whose president since 2005 has been former congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. Some thought that when he became Philippine Olympic Committee president eight years ago, he would restore the more or less apolitical, competent, patriotic service-oriented culture that our world of sports had lost.
Unfortunately, he did not. He has not. Some say he even made the situation worse.
What makes the POC the great influence on what happens to Philippine Sports?
Law creates the PSC
In 1990, Republic Act 6847 created the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to serve as the “sole policy-making and coordinating body of all amateur sports development programs and institutions in the Philippines.” It is supposed to “provide the leadership, formulate the policies and set the priorities and directions of all national sports promotion and development, particularly giving emphasis on grassroots participation.”
But probably because we are supposed to be a democracy, and individual freedom is supposed to be the basis of every person’s decision to excel—such as in a sport—the law tells the PSC to recognize the independence from state control of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). The POC is important because the International Olympic Games as well as the regional ones are where the highest level of athletic excellence can be seen.
By the same reasoning, the PSC also declares its adherence to the belief that all the national sports associations (NSAs) should be autonomous and therefore not to be interfered with. NSAs are the associations that promote and organize development—and games—in, among others, taekwondo, karate, wushu, swimming, archery, marksmanship, basketball, football, cycling, marathon running, discus throwing, canoeing and kayaking, etcetera.
And perhaps to make sure that the Philippine Sports Commission does not dictate what the NSAs should or should not do, Republic Act 6847 also gives to the Philippine Olympic Committee the responsibility for Philippine participation in the International Olympics, in the Asian Games (under the Olympic Council of Asia), in the SEAG or Southeast Asian Games (under the Southeast Asian Games Federation), and rather vaguely other international athletic competitions.
Thus while the government gives money to the PSC to be given to the NSAs so they can do their work of developing sports at the grassroots, the POC became the coordinator or supervisor of the NSAs because it is from the NSAs that future Filipino champions come from.
Formula for corruption
There is a formula for corruption and the encouragement of power tripping in the relationship among the PSC, the POC and the NSAs. The POC officers are elected by the NSAs.
So, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. has nurtured his men and allies to become the heads of as many NSAs as possible. And these NSA heads are devotedly loyal to Mr. Cojuangco. In that atmosphere, such anomalies as have happened in the swimming NSA under Mr. Mark Joseph and for which he is being charged, have become possible.
And such vile interference by Mr. Cojuangco’s allies in the good work of the Federation of School Sports Associations of the Philippines (FESSAP)—which we report on pages 1 and 2—is happening.
FESSAP is not a POC recognized NSA. But it has contributed probably more for the development of sports in the Philippines more substantially—without government support—than the NSAs allied with Mr. Cojuangco and receiving money from the PSC.
FESSAP’s commendable representation of the Philippines in the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) has resulted in medals and the exposure of Filipino athletes to top-notch players abroad.
But Mr. Cojuangco and his friends in the UAAP must have power over the Filipino presence in the FISU’s bi-annual Universiade Games. So they have tried –but failed—to oust FESSAP from FISU. And they vow to continue until they win the war against a decent and praiseworthy association of student athletes and their generous supporters.
Can something be done to stop these evildoers?