Pacquiao tells PSC Chairman Ramirez: Clean up corruption in sports
MANILA, Philippines – In his first hearing as chairman of the committee on sports, Senator Manny Pacquiao gave a clear and blunt instruction to new Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Butch Ramirez: get rid of corruption in sports.
Pacquiao headed the first hearing for the senate sports committee on Tuesday, August 16, touching base with the country’s sports agencies including the PSC, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
The discussion, which lasted over an hour, focused on the allocation of budgets to the different agencies, the clarification of roles, and a discussion on what would make a good sports program. The meeting was aimed at laying down plans for sports in the coming years, from grassroots programs to facilities and even a sports museum.
The Filipino boxing icon turned politician made clear his primary objective for the next 6 years of his term as senator.
“I heard a report from the Philippine Sports Commission… Direct to the point na ako magtanong (I will ask direct to the point),” Pacquiao began. “Are you aware of corruption inside the Philippine Sports Commission?”
Ramirez, the returning PSC chair who previously served from 2005 to 2009, responded by saying he would work towards transparency.
“Well there’s no perfect organization, Senator,” said Ramirez, adding he will begin meetings with the board next week as well as with sportswriters and employees “para walang corruption (so there’s no more corruption).”
“As to the past, wala naman yatang organization na talagang wala. But we leave it to the past. But ngayon, para sa transparency, lahat ng transaction sa board, lahat ng transaction sa bidding, meron kaming presentation sa sportswriters, sa empleyado tsaka sa COA (Commission on Audit).”
“There are many cases of corruption, yung efficiency ng tao namin. Baka hindi papasok ng 8 hours a day, that’s still corruption. But when it comes to money we are transparent with the bidding process and the approval of the board.”
(As to the past, I don’t think there’s an organization totally free from it. But we leave it to the past. But now, for transparency, for all transactions of the board and bidding there will be presentations to sportswriters, employees, and the COA.
There are many cases of corruption, like the efficiency of our employees. If they don’t come to work for 8 hours a day that’s still corruption.)
Pacquiao did not clarify where or how he obtained information regarding corruption inside the PSC but urged Ramirez to make sure it is addressed during his term.
“I’m hoping that in your leadership, 6 years, maayos mo lahat ng mga problema dyan (you’ll fix all the problems there). You know the problems. Hindi na natin isa-isahin yan. Alam mo lahat ng problema diyan (We won’t go through them one by one. You know all those problems), especially, I heard corruption inside the Philippine Sports Commission and I want you to address that,” Pacquiao said.
“Six years naman ako magiging senator so 6 years ko matututukan ‘yung sports. Gusto kong makita ‘yung tapat na pag-serbisyo.” (I’ll be senator for 6 years so I can focus on sports for 6 years. I want to see honest service.)
Master plan for sports
Before a committee that also included senators Sonny Angara, Gringo Honasan, Tito Sotto, Win Gatchailan, and Joel Villanueva, the PSC chief expressed his strong desire to come up with a “master plan” for sports.
Though the PSC had not yet laid down such plans for presentation to the Senate committee, it was discussed that it will include grassroots programs for athlete development, the establishment of sports institutions, and a serious attempt at ingraining sports into the everyday lifestyle of Filipinos.
“Whether it’s a rich or poor country money is a problem. What is missing here is we don’t have a master plan, we don’t have a clear policy,” Ramirez said, adding that a detailed proposal can encourage funding from the private sector.
“I think if we have a good master plan the private groups will fund us, help us. We cannot go to the private sector without a comprehensive program.”
Senator Angara raised the perspective that a healthy lifestyle for the general populace should be part of the objectives for sports development, essential making an active lifestyle second nature to Filipinos through health and wellness facilities in barangays.
“Tignan natin ‘yung health ng mamamayan. Ang dami nating namamatay sa lifestyle diseases (Look at the health of our citizens. So many die from lifestyle diseases). We see a lot of 40-year-olds dying from heart diseases. Hindi dapat mangyari ‘yan kung meron (That shouldn’t happen if we have) sufficient exercise and wellness,” he explained.
“Dapat holistic ‘yung pagtrato natin sa problema na ‘yan (We should treat that problem holistically). We’ll have a healthier citizenry if we have facilities at the barangay level. So I think that should be one emphasis going forward.”
Angara also brought up the need for a cultural shift through a sports museum, where Philippine sports history and legendary Filipino athletes will be celebrated, which could in turn inspire the next generation of athletes.
“We have a history of greatness but we need to reproduce it,” he said. “We’re a verbal a culture, we’re not a written culture. I think it’s time we make that shift in our generation.”
Call for unity
The meeting occurred just as the Philippines comes down to its last 3 athletes in the ongoing Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and at a time when interest and hope for Filipino athletes is seeing a revival after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz gave the country its first Olympic medal – a silver – in 20 years earlier this month.
Pacquiao made it clear he does not want to drop the ball on sports, and so he addressed the PSC and POC to settle any possible differences and work together going forward.
“Okay ba kayo? Walang problema? (Are you okay? There are no problems?)” was Pacquiao’s candid query. “Kung hindi kayo magkakaisa paano kayo makakakita ng magagaling na athlete?”
(If you don’t work together how can you find good athletes?)
Both the PSC and the POC had to clarify their respective functions to the committee, who admitted confusion over the responsibilities of each agency.
The PSC, established in 1990 through RA 6847, is a national government agency whose purpose is to be “the sole policy-making and coordinating body of all amateur sports development programs and institutions in the Philippines.”
While the POC is a private, non-governmental organization that serves as the umbrella body for all National Sports Associations or NSAs. They are recognized by and affiliated with the International Olympic Committee, which also handles similar National Olympic Committees across the globe.
According to Chairman Tomas Carrasco, the POC submits a budget plan each year subject to approval of the PSC. The sports budget then comes from the PSC and goes to the NSAs as funding for salaries, athlete and coach allowances, training programs, international competitions, and equipment.
“I think this is the time to reconcile each other. Work together to produce good athletes,” said Pacquiao.
Carrasco said the POC is “open to any arrangement” and they will meet with Ramirez to hear his plans.
All 3 sports agencies have yet to present a full plan or brief to the senate sports committee. With still plenty more to discuss, Pacquiao suspended the meeting and did not adjourn, saying further hearings will be scheduled in the coming months. – Rappler.com