Hidilyn Diaz speaks out on sports mess
With the landscape of Philippine sports in turmoil, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz came out in her Facebook account yesterday to decry mudslinging in media and put her trust in POC as the defender of Filipino athletes.
“Naniniwala lang ako na ang POC nagsabi sa media kung ang President at POC spokesperson nagsalita or naglabas ng pahayag,” said Diaz. “Salamat, sir, pinaglaban mo kaming mga atletang Filipino.” She addressed her gratitude to POC president Ricky Vargas who slammed sports politicians and appealed for unity in a Philippine STAR story yesterday.
Whether or not unity will be forged is a big question mark. Vargas is attempting to bring the Philippines Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), PSC and POC back together in working for a smooth staging of the coming Southeast Asian Games.
Even Vargas was dragged into the fray when his authority to release P7.2 Million as an advance to PHISGOC was recently questioned. Vargas was also criticized for authorizing PHISGOC to run the SEA Games when he had nothing to do with that. PHISGOC was created by an Executive Order and authorized by POC to organize the SEA Games before Vargas became POC president.
As for releasing P7.2 Million, it’s not an issue. A review of the minutes of the meeting of the POC expanded Executive Board held last Feb. 13 will show that Resolution No. N-2019 affirmed the POC’s authority to make the advance with no objection. The Resolution stated: “Resolved, that the POC be authorized, as it is hereby authorized, to confirm the advance made by POC to PHISGOC from the sponsorship funds.”
When Vargas assumed the POC presidency, he was able to generate a sponsorship pool of P76 Million – P50M from San Miguel Corp., P20M from PLDT-Smart and P6M from the PBA. The P7.2M advanced to PHISGOC came from the P76 Million fund.
In a letter addressed to Vargas, PHISGOC chairman Alan Peter Cayetano, PSC chairman Butch Ramirez and PHISGOC chief operating officer Tats Suzara signed to guarantee paying back the advance to POC. The letter noted that the budget for PHISGOC will be available only by March this year and the advance “will be returned and properly liquidated using PHISGOC funds.” The same letter said, “Thank you for your unwavering support as PHISGOC’s Co-Vice Chairperson … together, we can inspire the nation with the ideal that we win as one. The battlecry of “We Win As One” is the same slogan that Vargas has voiced in his call to close ranks. “We win as one, we work as one,” he said the other day.
It’s understandable that the PSC wants to play a major role in organizing the SEA Games because government money will be used. The budget of P7.5 Billion has reportedly been cut and may go down to P5 Billion. But the PSC has its own income stream which is quite substantial. In PHISGOC’s organizational chart, the PSC is represented in several departments, including administration and finance. Perhaps, PHISGOC should designate a controller from the PSC to check the legitimate movement of funds and look over the shoulders of the chief operating officer.
The delayed release of the budget has led to a delay in executing the training program for athletes gearing for the SEA Games. But is the budget for training or for operating expenses to stage the SEA Games? The training of athletes is within the PSC’s area of responsibility so the delay in releasing the budget should not affect the training timetable.
When money is a concern, everybody has an opinion on how it should be used. Everybody is out to grab a slice of the pie. So there must be a policeman to keep order. The PSC wants to make sure government money for sports is spent prudently, legitimately and according to plan. PHISGOC has the authority to organize the SEA Games so it needs money to do a good job. POC owns the SEA Games content and wants to assure that the NSAs and athletes under its wing are properly supported by the PSC. The three groups have their respective mandates. They’re not contradictory mandates, meaning they can work together as one if they choose to. If there is mistrust, then they should agree to a mechanism of check and balance. If there is misunderstanding, then they should settle their differences like upright Filipinos for the sake of the country. If there is misconduct, then they should remove the guilty parties quickly and without hesitation. The time to act is now.