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PSC to cut aid if POC fails to shape up


The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) yesterday threatened to withdraw support to the Philippine Olympic Committee and the national sports associations (NSAs) if no agreement is reached between the camps quarelling for control and leadership of the POC.
PSC Chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez's message was meant for POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and boxing chief Victorico Vargas, who is challenging Cojuangco to a re-vote of their 2016 electoral engagement.
The re-vote was ordered by the Pasig Regional Trial court and reinstated Vargas as a candidate against Cojuangco after he was disqualified in 2016 for alleged non-compliance with the rules on attendance in general assemblies.
Cojuangco tried to secure a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals, but his motion was denied, prompting him to fly to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea to solicit support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In a letter last week, the IOC said members of the POC general assembly should maintain their autonomy from the government and resolve the matter in an extraordinary session as soon as possible.
IOC deputy director general Pere Miro added that only the POC general assembly has the power to put Vargas back in presidential contention and not the local court or any branch of government.
The POC set the extraordinary general assembly on Monday with insiders anticipating a heated debate as the group of Vargas reportedly needs the support of 33, or three-fourths of the 45-man general assembly, to amend the constitution and put him back in contention in the Feb. 23 election.
Should Vargas and his men fail to meet this number, Cojuangco would go on to complete the next two years of his term until the country hosts the 30th Southeast Asian Games next year and participates in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Ramirez said government is fed up with all these rumblings.
“I am doing this for unity. I have been doing this since the time I assumed office,” said Ramirez, who is no stranger to POC politics, having served as chairman from 2004 to 2008 before being re-appointed again in 2016.
“Since July 1, 2016, I was already talking to the POC and the NSAs that we wanted unity and it’s almost two years now and it’s getting messy. The time has now come for me to talk since I am duty-bound as chairman and CEO of the Philippine Sports Commission. I cannot afford to just sit down.”
Ramirez reminded the POC leadership and other major players in this dragging political conflict that the government has been channeling around P600 to P900 million to NSAs to finance the training, allowance, exposure and other basic needs of their national athletes and coaches.
Although Republic Act 6847, or the law that created the PSC in 1990, states that the government has the obligation to finance the NSAs under the POC umbrella, the PSC still has the discretion to stop funding if it sees that sports officials are no longer on the same page.
“We have funding coming from PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) for the elite athletes, which is around P600 to P900 million. That amount has been remitted to the sports associations as per record both directly and indirectly,” Ramirez said.
“They should resolve this crisis. If not, the government will stop funding if they continue to be divided,” he added.
If and when the PSC decides to halt its funding, the country’s preparation and participation in the Asian Games in two Indonesian cities later this year will be severely affected.
More than that, the preparation for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games next year will also be stalled while elite athletes would have to look for fund elsewhere just to shoot for slots in the Tokyo Olympics.
“It will affect everybody. It will affect our training, it will affect our preparations for the Asian Games, the Southeast Asian Games and the Olympics,” Ramirez said.
“This has been going on and we don’t want to be hostaged by this. We have to remedy this one quickly. Since I am at the disposal of the President, in my position, I know this is the best thing to do.”

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