By Nick Giongco
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the government agency that funds the training, overseas participation and practically everything that caters to the concerns of the national athletes, yesterday called on the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the national sports associations to shape up.
In a statement released, PSC chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez urged the POC and the NSAs to find a solution to the leadership problem besetting Philippine sports for the last 18 months.
Ramirez’s urgent call for reforms comes just two days before the POC General Assembly convenes to decide whether boxing chief Ricky Vargas would be allowed to run for president against incumbent Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco.
A General Assembly is scheduled tomorrow afternoon at Wack Wack and the main agenda during the affair will be the status of Vargas, who had been disqualified to run against Cojuangco when elections were held in November 2016 owing to a technicality.
But Vargas’ got a big boost when a Pasig court ruled that the elections of 2016 was ruled illegal and that the POC should hold an election on Feb. 23 with Vargas a running against Cojuangco and cycling boss Bambol Tolentino going after the post of chairman.
Without saying so, Ramirez made a fervent appeal for the NSAs to vote in favor of Vargas being ruled eligible to run, stressing that the PSC will be left with no choice but to withhold funding if the crisis deepens.
“We have funding coming from Pagcor for the elite athletes, which is between P600 to P900 million. That amount has been remitted to the sports associations as per records, both direct and indirect. They should resolve the crisis. If not, the government will stop funding if they continue to be divided,” said Ramirez.
“It (withholding funding) will affect everybody. It will affect our training, our preparations for the Asian Games, the Southeast Asian Games and the Olympics,” said Ramirez, who received instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office to strengthen the government’s involvement in the affairs of athletes.
“It is the mandate of my office under the Office of the President to be in charge of Philippine sports in the country,” added Ramirez.
Cojuangco earned his fourth, four-year term in 2016 when the POC election committee ruled Vargas ineligible to run for failing to meet an attendance requirement in the GA.