Monday, January 12, 2015

Fair Play: P37 million for athletes, wasted?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Jan. 10  edition)
FOR those who bemoan the lack of support for national athletes, here’s a piece of news that will surely ruin your day.

Former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Efraim Genuino, along with a slew of sports officials that included former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, were charged for malversation of more than P37 million that was supposed to go to local athletes.


Between 2007 and 2008, Pagcor released P37 million directly to the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association for, among others, “consultancy fee disbursements to a private firm for the maintenance of a world-class facility owned by the family of Genuino.

Ouch.

A little background. This latest case is just the latest episode of the never-ending saga that is Philippine swimming. You have in one corner, Pasa and Mark Joseph, and in the other corner, Susan Papa and the rest of the factions.

I know Butch Ramirez, who was one of the biggest backers of Cebu when we hosted some events of the Southeast Asian Games, and I won’t pre-judge this case. One of the things he complained about when he became chairman, when he also faced a lot complaints from those who were on the outside looking in, was that it seems one of his biggest sins in the PSC was being a probinsyano who became a PSC chairman. A few years later, he unceremoniously got the boot in favor of an official who was close to the former president.

I will let Butch defend himself, but for me, this incident shows that there is money for Philippine sports, the only problem is, where the money is going.

Pagcor is where the PSC gets its funds and how much it gets is still a subject for
debate. Pagcor allots five percent from its net income to the PSC, while PSC said it should five percent of the gross income, a disagreement that amounts to almost P500 million.

For this year, the PSC will get P187 million, a measly amount that has t o be spread to all National Sports Associations and the athletes. And this is why this recent news involving the former chairman of Pagcor and PSC stinks and P37 million is almost 20 percent of this year’s budget and if it’s possible to get that much amount from Pagcor for a single association, could we do that again this year, but this time for five associations who really need it and who would make sure the money goes to the athletes and not the pockets of some?

This year, the PSC would be funding for the national teams preparation for the Southeast Asian Games, which will be held in the middle of this year, and I think, as early as now, they’d be singing the same old tune about the lack of funds.

That’s why, this case is interesting. If, aside from the annual allocation from Pagcor, an association can get additional funds as direct assistance, then by all means let’s do it again, but this time, the transaction should be aboveboard.

Surely that’s not impossible?

FEEDBACK. Tony del Prado, who was re-elected as chairman of the Philippine Taekwondo Association for Region 7, sent me an e-mail to thank me for my previous column.

Del Pardo admitted that he felt burnt out, after being in the position for almost 10 years.

Burnt out and weary, I decided to give it another run and hopefully whoever I will groom will live up to expectations...Then comes your article which is so uplifting and refreshing that I felt like I have a recharging of my energy and passion. Rest assured that I will continue to work as hard as I have and hopefully with more passion,” he said.

There are overstaying officials and there are officials whose stay are necessisated by what they have done and can still do.

(mikelimpag@gmail.com)

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