MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero yesterday said government and all major stakeholders in sports should pounce on the announced windfall coming from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) this year and the succeeding years leading up to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But the youthful lawmaker cautioned against unnecessary expenses, saying the PSC should prioritize projects related to athletes’ buildup for the 2016 Summer Games.
The PSC recently announced it has savings of more than P500 million. PSC Chairman Ricardo "Ritchie" Garcia offered bulk of the savings to national sports associations (NSAs) which could present viable programs that would ensure medal victories in the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.
"This is the first time that the PSC is claiming savings of as much as this, half-a-billion pesos that does not need to be returned to the national treasury as it was saved from the agency's corporate funds," Escudero said. "But the PSC could not spend this much just for the SEA Games alone, as earlier reported in the papers."
Escudero urged Garcia and his board to keep their focus on the Olympics, even if the Summer Games are still three years in the PSC’s calendar of major tournaments.
"Any savings is always a good news. Spending these savings wisely and effectively would make better news, however," said Escudero, who batted for priority sports to receive bulk of the amount in efforts to revive the country's hope of winning what could be its very first Olympic gold medal.
"On the part of the national government, our top leaders could give the PSC’s programs an extra push, while we in Congress should also give extra effort in giving the PSC its equitable share from the national budget as long as it could justify its expenses related to sports development," Escudero said.
It was earlier reported that the PSC had intended to use all its savings in a drive to regain the overall championship in the SEA Games, which will be held this year in Myanmar.
Escudero, however, opined that it could not be a wise move especially since not all events where the Philippines has strong chances of winning gold medals might be included in the Myanmar roster of events.
The Philippines last won the overall championship of the SEA Games in 2005 when the country played host to the event.
But the country took a downfall since then, even absorbing its worst placing at sixth among 11 countries the last time in Indonesia.
"While the SEA Games remain important in our sporting calendar, we should not take our focus away from the Olympics. It would do us best if we choose our priority Olympic events right away and give them funding aside from what they receive from their private sponsors," Escudero, an avid pistol shooter and bike enthusiast, said.
The last time the Philippines had a podium finish in the Olympics was in 1996, when Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco settled for a boxing silver medal in the lightflyweight division behold gold medal winner Daniel Petrov Bujilov of Bulgaria.
The Philippines did not win any medal in the succeeding Olympics in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
"The PSC has the capability to stop our decline this time," Escudero said.