Trillanes to PSC: Explain 'mishandling' of Wesley So's federation switch

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is under fire once more for letting go of a prized Filipino talent.

Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV filed Senate Resolution No. 1086, seeking to investigate the alleged mishandling by the country’s sports officials of Grandmaster Wesley So's request to switch federations from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) to the United States Chess Federation (USCF).

In a privilege speech on Monday, February 2, Trillanes noted how the sports officials failed to convince So to continue competing for the Philippines.

"Instead of seeking out GM So and trying to iron out and resolve things with him and persuade him to continue playing for the country, our sports officials, including NCFP, sat on his letter and bungled the opportunity to prevail upon GM So to reconsider his decision," Trillanes lamented.

"It is said in chess circles that GM So has a big potential of becoming a world champion. He is truly the pride of Philippine Chess. Unfortunately, the Philippines lost this hope of having its first Filipino world champion when GM So officially transferred his chess affiliation to the USA last October 2014."

In 2013, through a letter to NFCP President Prospero Pichay Jr., the Philippines' top chess player formally requested for his transfer to the USCF.

It was said that this decision was brought by confluence of factors that have been affecting So’s plan to pursue a serious career in chess.

Among these are the lack of a serious training system in the Philippines and the difficulty of flying to the Philippines to compete which conflicts with his studies in the USA.

These reasons were said to be aggravated by the on-going political tussle between sports groups in the country when the NCFP failed to recognize his feat at the Universiade, a competition which is recognized by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), despite winning the first ever gold medal for the Philippines.

"How many more promising athletes like GM So will our country have to lose due to the poor leadership of the PSC and its mishandling of sports development in the country, aggravated by the politicking between and among sports organizations and officials in the country?" Trillanes further lamented. 

After So's transfer, the 20-year old Cavite native was ranked 10th in the world in November 2014 FIDE ratings, and is considered the #2 player in the USA.

The US country ranking in FIDE also jumped from #9 to #4, while the Philippines slipped from #32 to #43. (READ: Wesley So, now playing under US, draws world champ)

"Despite the fact that there is no shortage of talent, perseverance, dedication and competitive spirit among Filipino athletes, GM So’s case reflects the very poor and dismal state of sports development in the country, particularly in providing high level training to support our young talents," the Senator explained.

"I hope that through this proposed Senate investigation and the ultimate passage of corrective legislative measures resulting therefrom, this august chamber could do its part in helping our country recover and regain some of its former glory in the field of sports," Trillanes added. –