Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fair Play: The Filipino athletes' legacy in a P5-million deep well

(This column appears in the Aug. 29 edition of Sun.Star Cebu)

I HAVE always been skeptical of sports leaders, especially those who talk a lot, unless of course they prove me otherwise. So when I first learned that there was a party-list for the Filipino athletes, I thought, well, this is something new.

But still, I was willing to give the PBA Partylist the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, they’d really do something new, especially when Rep. Mark Sambar told the Scoop sa Kamayan forum in September 2010, “We ran under the promise of ensuring that the legacy of the Filipino athlete is realized and we will do just that.”

How noble. But when the PDAF issue hit the ceiling, and the Department of Budget and Management released a link to its website where we can check how the PDAF of the representatives were spent, I got a chance to know how Rep Sambar helped sports.

So I checked his 2011 PDAF breakdown: P6.75 million for scholarships in various schools, P14.45 million for medicines, P20.3 million for repair, construction and completion of various multi-purpose buildings, P12 million for roads, P3M for construction of concrete shoulder, P5 million for a deep well and P1.6 million for purchase of two ambulances.

I’m not saying that all those expenses were anomalous. They could be all above board.

I’m pointing out that 2011 was a Southeast Asian games year and based on the data from the DBM website, it seems the partylist that ran for the national athletes didn’t spend a single centavo for them.

For 2013, another SEAG year? It’s the same, Sambar spent P20 million for road construction in Albay in two tranches of P10 million each released last February. For sports? Zero. Perhaps, it was really needed but do you know who could have used that P20 million?

The Filipino athletes, the very folks Sambar ran for. In February this year, some of the national team members learned they couldn’t compete in the Southeast Asian Games for various reasons, one of which is the lack of funds to send them to Myanmar.

When the issue on the lack-of-funds for the SEAG campaign hit the news, I don’t remember Rep. Sambar raising a howl in support of the athletes.

Surely a district representative could have taken care of all those roads, scholarships, deep well, ambulances or multi-purpose buildings and he could have spared a million or two or 20 for the national athletes?

We ran under the promise of ensuring that the legacy of the Filipino athlete is realized and we will do just that,” he said.

Let’s all look for that P5 million deep well in Barangay Mag Asawang Sapa, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, and rescue the legacy of the Filipino athlete buried there.

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