MANILA, Philippines - In the absence of foreign exposure and training, Filipino athletes are bound to suffer when they vie in three major international events this year.
“We are supposed to send our athletes abroad for training,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco yesterday.
But that’s unlikely to happen to athletes from 34 national sports associations that have unliquidated cash advances from the Philippine Sports Commission.
Under the order of the Commission on Audit, the PSC can no longer issue cash advances or financial assistance to delinquent NSAs.
No financial assistance from the PSC means no foreign trips for the athletes who are supposed to be preparing hard for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing on August, the Asian Games in Incheon in September and the Asian Beach Games in Phuket in November.
Cojuangco said it’s a pity that the issue regarding the unliquidated cash advances came at a time when the athletes and the NSAs badly need the assistance.
The POC chief said if the problem is not solved soon, it may be better for the country to skip the said competitions.
“Yun na iniisip ko na baka sumali tayo at wala naman mangyari (I’m thinking that we might join and nothing happens). Pag ganyan eh huwag na lang sumali (If that’s the case let’s not join),” he said.
Cojuangco recalled when the Philippines won the overall title in the SEA Games in 2005, it was because then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo was able to raise P150 million from the private sector for the foreign training of the Pinoy athletes.
“And now that we don’t have as much money, this issue comes up. Baka matambakan lang tayo at mapapahiya lang tayo (We might take a beating and lose our face),” he added.
The PSC has come up with the list of 34 NSAs with unliquidated cash advances from July 2010 to February 2014 amounting to P32,153,033.25.
Judo tops the list with a little over P4 million, followed by wrestling with P2.9 million, sailing with P2.6 million, golf with P2.2 million, weightlifting P2.2 million, rowing P2 million, boxing with P1.6 million, archery P1.5 million, bridge P1.2 million, gymnastics P1.1 million and windsurfing P1 million.
A few NSAs have much less to worry about, baseball with P20,720, swimming P19,634, volleyball P10,802 and squash with P4,650 in unliquidated cash advances.
Cojuangco’s own association in equestrian is also in the list, short of P757,000.
“I really don’t understand that equestrian is there when we even return money not spent by the association,” he said.
Cojuangco said the issue is putting everybody in a bad light, and that it might turn away potential donors from the private sector.
“Kapag unliquidated ka kasi ang ibig sabihin nag-dispalko ka o kumupit ka. Pangit pakinggan (When you say unliquidated it means you embezzled or pocketed the funds,” he said.
“I really don’t know what to do anymore,” Cojuangco added.
“This is a very serious matter because it will affect everybody with unliquidated cash advances. I hope we soon find a solution to this,” said PSC chairman Richie Garcia.