Press Release
November 21, 2013

Sen. Pia moves to defer the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission; mulls zero allocation for failing to support athletes

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Wednesday moved to defer consideration of the budget next year of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), citing its inability to uphold the interest of Philippine sports at the continuation of the Senate's plenary deliberations on the proposed P2.268-trillion national government budget for 2014.

At the same time, Cayetano threatened a 'zero budget' allocation and the possible filing of administrative charges against PSC officials for the latter's failure to supervise and sanction National Sports Associations (NSAs) which prevented some of the country's outstanding athletes from competing in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

No member of the chamber, including the finance committee chair Sen. Francis Escudero, interposed objections to Cayetano's motion to withhold the chamber's deliberations on the PSC's budget proposal for 2014 amounting to P182.3 million. The motion was subsequently adopted by the plenary.

[Note: Aside from its allocation in the national budget, the PSC also receives millions in remittances from the Philippine Gaming Corporation. Subsidy to the commission this year has reached P504 million as of September 2013, according to the PAGCOR website.]

In her interpellation of Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who was sponsoring the PSC budget, Cayetano expressed disappointment with the commission's inaction in the cases of multi-awarded swimmer Denjylie Cordero and members of Philippine Dragon Boat Team. Despite their outstanding performances, she said these athletes were left out of the PSC's line-up to the 27th SEA Games slated in Myanmar this December due to differences with their respective NSAs.

"We raise the case of one of the swimmers, Denjylie Cordero, who is multi-awarded and has a very good shot at getting a silver or probably a gold [at the SEA Games]. And yet, [she] is not in the line-up because of differences between her father and the former president of the swimming association, who is also a former deputy secretary-general of the [Philippine Olympic Committee]."

"I want to hear from PSC: How in the world did personal differences... become the basis for not including a swimmer, who has the potential of winning the gold, in the line-up?" asked Cayetano, in reference to the 18-year-old swimming standout Cordero, who broke the country's 10-year-old record for the women's 50-meter breaststroke just last September at the UAAP swimming championships.

Cayetano also raised the plight of the Philippine Dragonboat Team, which was considered a shoo-in for the SEA Games, but was dropped from the PSC's national lineup following a falling-out with their coach. The team bagged six golds and a silver medal at the World Dragonboat Championship held in Milan, Italy last year, beating powerhouse teams Russia and the United States.

"Picture this: They beat world powers in Europe. Umiiyak yung mga kababayan natin because for the first time, bida ang Pilipinas. This is the world championships. And yet in a month's time, we will not have a Philippine dragonboat team in the Southeast Asian Games," she pointed out.

"Pang-world champion tayo pero hindi tayo pang-Southeast Asian Games, bakit? Because the coach of the dragon boat team decides that the whole team is unfit? Or has committed certain violations that are unacceptable so she disbanded the whole team?"

She continued: "And PSC and POC won't do anything about it: 'Ayaw pala ng coach. Therefore, let's not send our world champions to the Southeast Asian Games. Let's just tell the Senate that we have no say in this because the NSA has the final say.'"

Reacting to the explanation given by PSC officials through Sen. Guingona that the commission had no power over the NSAs, and that the latter had sole discretion in endorsing the athletes for the SEA Games, Cayetano cited Section 11 of Republic Act No. 6847 (The Philippine Sports Commission Act) which enumerates the PSC's powers over the NSAs.

"Para saan pa itong Section 11 on powers of the commission to exercise supervisory and visitorial powers of the NSA. What do we do with this provision if they will just tell us that they cannot do anything?" the senator asked.

"I mean, think about it: I can imagine if the NSA suspended just one member, two members, even the team captain, but to suspend the whole team? What did you [PSC] do to exercise your supervisory and visitorial powers? What did you do? Please tell me how that was exercised?"

"These two incidents clearly tell us that PSC, under our current laws, is not doing its job. Yes, I can amend the law, and I will do that. I will strip PSC of so many of its powers. But for this budget, I am torn between asking the body to defer the budget while I think about a zero budget. In conscience, I have a difficulty recommending a zero budget because at the end of the day, it's the athletes who will suffer."

"I ask that this budget be deferred while I am making up my mind, and it will include the filing of cases against officials who are not doing their job. This is clearly neglect and abuse of authority: When we can look away and just hide behind the cloak by saying that these NSAs are separate entities. So that is my motion, Mr. President, that we defer the budget for now, as I hope the body, along with me, will try to decide if this agency deserves a budget."

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