MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday reiterated President Benigno Aquino III’s position that Philippine sports agencies must focus on fields wherein Filipino athletes show the greatest potential.
Speaking on dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President is firm in his position that “given the limited resources, we should be identifying certain fields where we have potential.”
Last May 7, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Palarong Pambansa in Lingayen, Aquino identified 10 athletic fields included in the “focused sports policy” of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
These sports were: boxing, taekwondo, athletics, swimming, wushu, archery, wrestling, bowling, weightlifting and billiards.
Aquino said almost P200- million, or 33% of the annual remittance of the National Sports Development Fund, were dedicated to those sports.
“The President has already made his position that there has to be identification of fields,” Valte reiterated.
The Palace’s statement comes after the country’s strongest hope for a medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, was eliminated following a controversial loss to Kazakh boxer Birzhan Zhakypov.
Barriga led 10-8 going into the third round, but was docked two points which proved to be the difference in his 16-17 loss to the Kazakh boxer.
“He fought valiantly,” Valte said of Barriga. “For a moment, we were all watching him. Even if hindi nakuha, he fought valiantly.”
But Barriga’s loss also raised questions as to whether there is a need to revamp the country’s sports programs.
“We leave it to the sports agencies,” Valte said.
Valted added: “Everybody is still hoping for something from the Filipino contingent.”
Only track athletes Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera and BMX rider Daniel Caluag have yet to see action in the London Games.
Of the three athletes, it is Caluag who is perceived to have the best chance of competing for a medal. The Filipino-American cyclist is ranked among the top 10 BMX riders in the United States.
The Philippines’ bets in archery (Mark Javier and Rachel Cabral) and swimming (Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi) have already been eliminated from the Games.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who was also considered to be a potential medal contender, was also eliminated during the group stages. Judoka Tomohiko Hoshina has also bowed out of the Games.
The blame game over the Philippine delegation’s poor performance in the London Games has already started, with the Philippine Olympic Committee’s Monico Puentevella saying that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is to blame for the continuing budget cut allocation for sports.
Puentevella claimed that he has been asking Pagcor fr years to restore the 5% gross savings share allocated for sports, as mandated in Republic Act 6847 and approved by former President Corazon Aquino.
But Pagcor said they should not be blamed for the poor performance of the Filipino athletes, claiming that the agency has been implementing the same computation of remittances to Philippine amateur sports based on the approval of the Office of the President back in the 1990s, during the Ramos administration.
Moreover, Pagcor said its contributions to the Philippine Sports Commission has grown substantially over the years.