MANILA—Two officials of the Philippine Olympic Committee received a tongue-lashing from a senator on Monday for the POC’s failure to provide financial support to the Philippine dragon boat team that won five medals in Florida recently.
Sen. Pia Cayetano said some sports officials even made derogatory comments about the dragon boat team right after its victory.
“There were statements made by the highest agencies of government or private organizations representing sports putting down the team for winning only five gold medals,” she noted, not identifying anyone.
“I don’t care if you don’t like their faces, but why put down a team that has brought glory to our country? I want to hear from POC and (the Philippine Sports Commission) if this team disgusts you. Are you embarrassed by this team? There were comments like ampaw yata, matanda na, dapat palitan na yan (They are weak, old, they should be replaced),” Cayetano said.
“We are not here to insult anybody,” POC Chair Monico Fuentebella assured Cayetano. “For your information, there were 87 golds at stake in that competition.”
“And the point being that they took home only five? What is the point of saying 87? What are you trying to say?” Cayetano snapped.
In an earlier Senate hearing on Monday, PSC Chair Richie Garcia said the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) was not given funds because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not recognize it.
Under local rules, the POC only endorses national sports associations (NSAs) that are recognized by the IOC and the specific sport’s own international federation.
The PDBF was not given funding since it did not belong to a specific NSA. Instead, it was ordered placed under the association for canoe-kayaking athletes.
“If the POC fails to do so, the PDBF will (insist) on its call to be reinstated as (an independent NSA),” PDBF president Maria Cristobal said.
Maria Luz Arzaga-Mendoza of the breakaway group Aqua Sports Association blamed the “negative leadership” of NSAs for the “politicking” in the POC.
“A lot of people do not know that the problem in sports is not the issue of funding. The bottom line is negative governance. I’m talking here about politicking. If (POC officials) don’t like anyone they’re not going to get votes from), that’s the whole issue here. Whoever is president of an NSA votes for the POC president,” Mendoza said.
The Senate committee on games, amusement and sports is eyeing changes in the PSC charter to avoid a repeat of the government’s failure to provide support to the PDBF.
Committee chair Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said “mechanisms” could be put in place to allow the PSC to resolve conflicts among various NSAs that aspire to send athletes to foreign competitions.