Addressing The Alleged Corruption In The Philippine Olympic Committee

Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose S. Cojuangco Jr.

Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose S. Cojuangco Jr.

I went through the comments in my recent blogpost about the Philippine Olympic Team Ready To Win Gold At 2008 Beijing Olympics, and received a lot of comments about alleged corruption by the Philippine Olympic Committee, which apparently leads to the fielding of only 15 athletes for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The summary of the concern is – “Why only 15 Filipino athletes? Why wasn’t there more financial resources put in to add more athletes? And why is it that the support entourage outnumbers the athletes 3:1 including a Manny Pacquiao?”

Comment from Californian said something like, “Unfortunately, Philippines will not win any gold medal in Beijing Olympics. This does not mean that we do not have the best athletes in the world but that we do not have the best training facilities and the best training programs. This is a result of the the widespread corruption in the country where most of the governmental programs only exist in paper but are way far from achieving their goals.”

Ok. There were also a lot more said, and the basic question is where the hell is the funding for the Philippine Olympic Team, and why is there not enough to develop the training or to send more athletes? Is it really a case of government corruption?

Well, I’m not sure what the allocated budget is for the Philippine Olympic Committee, but the Philippine Olympic Committee has memberships from all sorts of national sports associations, or what they call as NSA’s. There are 38 regular member NSA’s of the Philippine Olympic Committee. Some of these NSA’s include the National Golf Association of the Philippines, National Chess Federation of the Philippines, Philippine Karatedo Federation, Philippine Amateur Baseball Association, Basketball Association of the Philippines, Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, Philippine Football Federation and more. The full list of recognized and accredited national sports associations by the Philippine Olympic Committee is available here.

I’m not certain, but it is my belief that for them to be accredited and recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee, they have to be able to show a national program in the development of their specific sport, and not just on paper, but by actually executing the program in a national level. One of the tasks of the NSA’s is to find smaller associations, and monitor and support them in the local programs they have for that particular sport.

For example, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is the national sport association that governs football in the Philippines and organize the Philippines National Football Team. The PFF also hosts the PFF National Men’s Open Championships, which is a national tournament that helps in the development of national football, and eventually acts as a stage with which to pick out the best players to represent the Philippines.

Now, the PFF has members from the Provinicial Football Associations for regions around the Philippines. There are about 30 of these Provincial FA’s from all over the Philippines. OF coures, each PFA has also its own member football clubs and associations. For example, the NCR FA has among its members – Kaya FC, Diliman FC, Philippine Army FC, San Beda College, Makati FC, Ateneo FC and more. Some are school-based teams, and some are extra-curricular clubs.

Now, competitions are held at the provincial level among the clubs registered with that PFA, then the top players are then invited by the PFA to represent that particular PFA in the National Tournament. That’s where the politics may begin, but then the decision to include anyone in the PFA, in this case the NCR FA, is really based on talent and hard work. It is usually awarded to the athlete who can dedicate their efforts and talent to training and hard work, and then once the National Tournament comes along, the picks on who will represent team Philippines for international competition will then be considered.

Once again I’m not sure, but the funds allocated to the Philippine Olympic Committee by the government budget will somehow have to trickle down to the National Sports Associations (NSA’s) of a particular sport, and then will trickle down again to the Provincial Sports Associations, to the schools or to the extra-curricular clubs who participate.

The funding is usually spent for coming up with tournaments and competitions at every level from provincial to national. And then, what remains will be left for training and for representation in international competition.

Now, to get to the Olympic stage is not just as easy as paying for a ticket and a registration fee, and saying I want to compete. Eventually, there are qualifications for entering the Olympics in other international competitions, such as the Southeast Asian Games or the bigger Asian Games. Of course, doing well in the SEA Games means you earn a trip to the next level, which are the Asian Games, and then if you do well there you get a spot to play in the Olympics against the rest of the other continents.

So, while we all hear of Filipino athletes bagging golds left and right in the SEA Games against the likes of Cambodia, VIetnam and Thailand, some of them drop out of their Olympic dream when they reach the stage of the Asian Games, where the competition includes the likes of China, Japan, Korea, Israel and more.

Of course, the qualifying process is different for every sport, but eventually the task of getting picked to go to the Olympics is not one that is made by the Philippine Olympic Committee itself. The Philippine Olympic Committee still has to go through the channels and deal with the various NSA’s, who in turn have to deal with all sorts of Provincial Sports Associations or Regional Sports Associations, and from there move on to the international qualification stages for the Olympics.

Another commenter on the post, taexrhs83, suggested going down to the grass roots level to develop sports training and such. Well, the grass roots in this case would be the schools, a huge percentage of them which are public schools, who can’t afford to pay the teachers or the renovation of classrooms, much less improve the school yard for a proper baseball field, or a proper basketball court. The local public school solicits from its local city mayor, and eventually the city mayor releases some funds, but of course, the school principal in charge of the funds prioritizes the purchase of textbooks instead of baseball gloves.

The city mayor and the congressman of the district pull together some funds to build a park, equipped with tennis, basketball and badminton courts, and sometimes that’s all they can do. The rest is left to the citizens of that area if they want to go get a badminton/tennis racket, or pick up a basketball. Sure, the young kids do it, and hopefully when they get to high school they won’t give in to the peer pressure of drinking and smoking, both of which are readily available in the nearest sari-sari store. And while the law says you can’t buy these products under the age of 21, who the fuck are you kidding?

Even little kids sell the cigarettes per piece for 2 pesos, and little boy Junior will always be asked by his uncle to go next door to get Emperador from Aling Nene, and Aling Nene will oblige little boy Junior.

Yup, the problems intertwine with all sorts of other things. Poverty mainly being the cause of what would stop one from being a successful athlete. Most parents can’t even afford a decent meal, let alone the proper shoes an athlete would require just to even run.

Of course, I’m just trying to give an objective view into how it works here in the Philippines. Give me time to do some research, and maybe we can get someone from the Philippine Olympic Committee give a better, more comprehensive explanation to answer for the allegations of corruption or under-developed athletes.

However, based on the results of these 2008 Beijing Olympics, while the Philippines may not have a medal – some of the Filipino athletes who’ve competed have made a remarkable feat by improving their personal best. And sometimes that’s all you can hope for – that each individual comes out of this experience a better person, with better energy, with more wisdom – and eventually that what they accomplish will be an inspiration for someone to be determined to do better. Of course, all in the name of the Philippines.

However, I’d still like to know if the POC paid for Manny Pacquiao’s ticket? Anyone, anyone?

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14 Responses to “Addressing The Alleged Corruption In The Philippine Olympic Committee”

  1. I’ll investigate some more and hopefully get word from the Philippine Olympic Committee itself on this issue. 🙂 Mabuhay kayo!

  2. taexrhs83 Says:

    Thanks for the insightful article. The reality check on the real-life difficulties that ironballs the Filipino athlete really puts this discussion into perspective, it is truly hard to expect too much when these athletes are given too little in terms of time, proper training, monetary support, & with their difficult lives out of athletics (poverty) as a backdrop, for a Filipino to excel on the world athletic stage might well take a miracle. But I think we should be able to improve on the situation, although it will take time and money.

    My previous comment about going ‘grassroots’ is my belief on how best to improve athletics in any country, you only need to look at the US, Russia, China that to see that this is the best way to go but then these achievements in sports also take time, dedication and the all-mighty Euro 🙂 (at least, the US is sucking seashells on the currency competition). But I totally agree with your point that on the backdrop of poverty in real life, who could even think of investing time on athletics? So, while grassroots is the best way to go, it might not be practical for the Philippines.

    But short of that, a quick stopgap strategy is to focus on one sport that we know we are good in: boxing. Why not start a program where we try to dominate boxing much like Cuba? I think this is the quickest way to the gold. You also take advantage of the sport being played by weight class, so you are up against someone your own size. I just checked, and it looks like Harry Tanamor is having a rough time in his first match. All power to him but is he the best we could have sent? And why do we have only 1 boxer? We should strive to send pugilists at every weight class we could compete in. As for other sports, basketball, soccer, while we love these sports, we are just not equipped to compete at a high level like the BO. In the short term, the quickest way to get to the medal podium is to focus on the individual sports: boxing, swimming, weight lifting. It is harder to train & field a team sport; you would need even more time, dedication & euros to do well in team sports compared to individual sports. Although, I do not see why we cannot be competitive in basketball, soccer & baseball in SEA, Asian, (then eventually the Os).

    As for the national athletics program, my big question is, I am pretty certain that national athletics is in the national budget, how big is it, and where does it all go? and, factoring in poverty, educational infrastructure, etc, etc, are we spending it as optimally as we could? Are we getting the biggest bang for our peso? Is all the money going solely to the athletes? I’d hate to see it go to some politician/businessman/con-man fatcat’s pockets. OK, I guess that is more than 1 question. So, sue me.

    Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!!!

  3. taexrhs,

    Well, we should be able to send more boxers, but then like I said they have to rise up the ranks also from SEAgames, Asia games before going to the Big O. I also believe they have to be medal winners of the AIBA (Amateur Int. Boxing Ass. or something).

    Of course, the money isn’t solely going to the athletes. There are operation costs, and yes, sometimes some politician/businessman/con-man does get his fair share to avoid the red tape at a local government level. The trickle down of the cash always trickles sideways. 🙂

  4. alfonsito Says:

    corruption is the most famous crime that we had here in the Philippines. so, there is no wonder that the officials just pocketed down a large amount of money. if there is only a way to stop these corruption using my help. i am very glad to help

  5. I was searching for the medal count hoping for the philippines to have at least one medal. but to my disappointment there was none. so i tried the search for the filipino team to see which events our athletes are competing in. then i came across this blog and im totally enraged about what i have read. the 3:1 entourage to athlete ratio is very appalling. how come there are only 15 athletes. i am pretty sure that there are more talented people here in our country but why only 15? we know somewhere along the way the funding for this might have reached the pockets of people who are not supposed to have them, only we don’t have proof. and the sad thing is I feel that the people are somehow being indifferent already. anyway, i just hope that things will change for us in the 2012 games. because as of the moment it looks like we really have a bleak chance of winning even just one bronze. I’ll just continue to pray for our country that God would save the Philippines from power hungry and greedy government officials. As for the athletes who went to Beijing Godspeed and we love you. we know you tried your best! Mabuhay!

  6. CORRUPTION??? That would be an understatement! It is a freaking disease just like cancer and the worst kind too. These people(officials of Philippine goverment) don’t have a clue that putting the budget inside there own pocket not only, morally wrong but also a criminal act.
    So go figure! Our country is being run by uncapable, criminals and/or thugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I was an athlete back in the days and was fortunate to have an American coach. Fortunate not because he was American but he despised corruption to the bone! It seemed that he was successful so many times looking for sponsors but after he left everything went down faster than a runaway train.
    So we can chant Mabuhay ang Filipinas a million times, be a cliche but in reality it sounds more of a desperate plea of a dying man wanting to live!

  7. Juan Tamad Says:

    The article addresses little of the alleged corruption in the POC, just skirting around the topic, though to any observer of the RP scene, the membership alone suggests many hands deep in the Olympic trough. Probably the usual 99:1 ratio of 1 dollar ending up in the pockets of those who deserve and need it, and 99 dollars taken in commissions, administration and handling fees of those who don’t.

    As to the support: athletes ratio of 3:1, I wonder how many of them are friends, family or business cronies? Why not identify them?

  8. To all that commented:

    Notice that I did say “alleged corruption”, which just basically means that I’m not yet really pinpointing any real corruption nor do I have solid evidence of this. What I did offer though in this article is a brief insight on the way things work in terms of picking out the athletes to represent the Philippines in the Olympics as well as other international sporting events and games. While the focus of the Philippine Olympic Committee may seem like it’s just the Olympics, there is so much more to it than that. While only 15 athletes were sent to Beijing, prior to that there were hundreds who saw action at the Asian Games, and not to mention the thousands that took part in the SEA Games.

    I applaud the Philippine Olympic Committee for doing their job, and while the result of an Olympic medal never really came – they did their best in finding the proper representatives for the country. It’s really not the Philippine Olympic Committee that should be under fire here, but then everything else around that poses a hindrance to the effectiveness of the POC from doing their job, such as the red tape that lines up local government. Getting a permit to hold a simple fun run in a major city requires some major permits and major expenses. Traffic has to be diverted. Traffic cops are on detail to help with the traffic, and if a road needs to be closed, then the fees can become quite exravagant unless someone knows someone who can get a favorable discount from the mayor or maybe the representative to Congress.

    The system of government we have in regards to these excutive-appointed organizations and committees is the thing we must change. Otherwise, it all boils down to the payback of favors, and the maintenance of a system of government that leaves room for the practice of corruption, or even the opportunity for graft and corruption to take place.

    If I handled the POC, I would stray away from local government and deal directly with the private sector. Getting an ex-deal on that hightech Speedo swimsuit will be worth it enough, and would definitely be good for our swimmers. Maybe Nike can give top-of-the-line running shoes for our can’t-afford athletes, who have to rely on Divisoria run-offs for their Nike shoes.

    It’s one thing to have the right training, but it’s also another thing to have the best goods available in the market. You may have the best trainer, but with a lousy part of fake Nike’s, our athletes may run into injuries and have them short of 100% when it comes time to perform.

    My two cents.

  9. Jojo Marsapan Says:

    Just a simple question: If not of worsening corruption in our country ( from traffic police officer receiving lagays, an Immigration officer at the airport receiving “CFO” fee from a panicked exiting oversea worker leaving for the first time, or Chow-king eatery displaying old menu prices but charging with new higher ones, or political candidates distributing cash to the voters at night, to the building of many rice irrigation canals that never worked) can we have a more chance of getting Olympic medals? How are those countries that are said to be most corrupt compare with those whose government are running well in the Olympic Medal Tally? If corruption will be diminished in our country, can we have more chance of producing better athletes for the Olympics? We will just wait and see.

  10. bien pineda Says:

    Wow! It seems that average “Joe Filipinoes” are keenly aware of some of the problems surrounding the state of Philippine sport, which in general, reflect the broader social cultural and political condition in this country.

    Corruption, poverty, lack of funds, training facilities, equipment, lack of infrastructure, are all good arguments. But they only mirror what we’ve always generally lacked in, even historically, that has had an impact on our ways of life, including sport, and that is a sense of who we are. Once we’ve defined that, then a commitment to enforcing that identity will trickle up and affect every facet of our way of life, however we choose to define it.

    Whether there is corruption or not, whether the conditions of poverty limits our progress, whether or not the disease of greed keeps this country from moving to the 21st century, one thing is an undeniable certainty. This country can produce extraordinary gifted people who make contributions to the world that have far reaching global impact beyond the pettiness of our domestic political system.
    To be able to create an environment to nurture and cultivate our potential, our brain power as well as our physical prowess, as in sport, should be the priority of any government that cares about its citizens. If that is not happening, then the system is dubious, at least.

    It is going to take a cultural psychic change of the greatest magnitude to overhaul this current system, that cares less about elevating the overall global status of the nation, and cares more about symbolic appearances.

    If you want to see improvement in the state of our sports program, among the thousands of other more significant programs of this country, then you need only to look inside yourself and ask , who the hell am I? And what can I do and what can I sacrifice,as a true patriot of this country, to improve the welfare of each and every member? If you are a privileged Filipino and you have a problem with this question, then very little change is possible, including our sports status. To be able to compete globally, Filipinoes must start thinking and acting in the big picture. And we can start by taking care of our own.

  11. charlie eric Says:

    Both Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine sports commission, ABAP and the Philippine Taekwondo federation did not betrayed our ill-fated one of our 11 Team Philippines, who never won the Olympic medal in the 2012 London Olympiad again, Both Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine sports commission, ABAP and the Philippine Taekwondo federation betrayed themselves.

  12. charlie eric Says:

    Both Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine sports commission, ABAP and the Philippine Taekwondo federation is now presides over a state of chaos, corruption and madness.
    Only President Aquino as well as Vice President Binay, had them both fired from their respected duties.
    The senate and the Philippine congress Hearing may had them examined.
    And only the AIBA and the I.O.C may the Both Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine sports commission, ABAP and the Philippine Taekwondo federation suspended, if the facts is true.

  13. charlie eric Says:

    Both Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine sports commission, ABAP and the Philippine Taekwondo federation is now presides over a state of chaos, degradation, corruption and madness.
    Only President Aquino as well as Vice President Binay, had them both fired from their respected duties.
    The senate and the Philippine congress Hearing may had them examined.
    And only the AIBA and the I.O.C may the Both Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine sports commission, ABAP and the Philippine Taekwondo federation suspended, if the facts is true.

  14. charlie eric Says:

    “That our training sports facilities it is sorely lacking and we have had this problem for quite a long time. … they should do what they are supposed to do… this is not acceptable. Hopefully this will be the last time that our one of our proud 11 Team Philippines in the 2012 London Olympics, who never won the Olympic medal again.”

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