Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Fair Play: POC's shrewd move to get NSA's to toe the line

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Jan 5. edition)
IN the Philippines, Peping Cojuangco, the chairman of the Philippine Olympic Committee, is the face most people associate with Philippine sports development.

Though he may seem powerful, and some of his policies and criteria have been a bane to some athletes whose international stints were snuffed because according to the POC—and PSC—they had no chance at all to win a medal, there are also other powerful men in Philippine sports.


Those who wield power in Philippine sports and are buffered because they and their roles are not that known, are the presidents of the various national sports associations (NSAs). Just remember in the last Southeast Asian Games, when our athletes failed, who got blamed?

That’s why some sports figures would sell their mama’s souls to the devil to become the NSA president and why some NSAs are forever locked in political disputes.

What is a national sport association? It’s essentially a private group getting annual government funding and who wouldn’t want to head one? Especially if being an NSA president means you get to fly abroad whenever the international sport association, that the NSA is a member of, calls for a meeting. And oh, if the government sniffs around and asks you to clean house, an NSA can go cry, “government interference,” and successfully ward off any outside attempts for reforms and continue to do what it’s doing.

Again that explains why political skirmishes in various NSAs continue forever. Being an NSA president is a dream job for the inept and lazy and over the years, we’ve had leaders like them.

The NSA presidents, too, elect among themselves who heads the POC, and I’m told that during elections, open bribery is the norm so if one has an ambition to become the POC chairman, and in turn be a member of the International Olympic Committee, he has to court favors from the other NSA presidents.

And of course, to continue getting their support, he has to continue supporting such presidents. You know, scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

Are you with me so far?

Because right now, there’s a new guideline in Philippine sports, one that may just shift the balance of power. Money is power, right? And who wields them has the power?

In the Philippine sports settings, it used to be that the NSAs just go knocking at the doors of the Philippine Sports Commission so they can get the share of the government fund, but now, there’s a new twist. According to news a couple of weeks ago, each NSA must get a clearance from the POC before they could get funds from the government.

Just an innocuous clearance from the POC that certifies an NSA to be an association of good standing before the PSC opens its pockets.

It’s a Commission on Audit requirement according to the news but it’s curious why this latest requirement from the government body that makes sure funds are spent where they should is addressed to the leaders and not, well, how funds are spent.

So, picture this, in 2015, before they can get their PSC manna, the NSA heads has to court the POC for an endorsement. Without it, how can they function for the rest of the year? Some well-funded NSAs like those in football, boxing, basketball and taekwondo can, but the rest has to rely on government funds.

And in 2016, when the POC meets anew for its quadrennial elections, what role do you think would that “certification for a member of good standing” play?

It’s something only a shrewd politician can come up with and before becoming the POC head, wasn’t Peping a shrewd politician?


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