CAS appeal still alive - PSI sec gen

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Feb 03 2023 10:46 PM

Contrary to what some quarters might believe, the Philippine Swimming Inc.’s appeal filed against World Athletics with the Court of Arbitration for Sport remains “very much alive,” PSI secretary general Atty. Levi Ang said Friday.

“Panawagan po sa lahat, huwag din po excited sa latest ruling ng CAS. PSI’s appeal is still pending decision," Ang said on his Facebook account.

(This is for the attention of all, don’t excited with the latest CAS ruling.)

"What was dismissed is simply the application for a status quo order. Mahaba pa po ang laban,” he said.

(The fight is still long.)

“Premature po magdiwang. Pero sige po, pwede kayo mag-happy hour mamya, total Friday naman. Buhay na buhay pa po appeal ng PSI. Nagpapabugbog lang sa umpisa ala #FPJ.”

(It is premature to celebrate. But it’s okay to enjoy happy hour since it is a Friday. The PSI appeal is very much alive. It is just taking a beating at the start.)

The PSI secretary general aimed to clear things up after CAS issued a decision on Feb. 2 dismissing the local swim body’s plea against the FINA Bureau’s decisions of Dec. 3 and 15, 2022, respectively.

“The request for a stay of execution of the decision rendered by the FINA Bureau on 3 and 15 December 2022 filed by the Philippine Swimming Inc. on 20 December 2022 and supplemented on 12 and 19 January 2023 in the matter CAS/2022/9351 Philippine Swimming Inc. v. World Aquatics (formerly known as Federacion Internationale de Natation (FINA), is dismissed,” the CAS document said.

The document was signed by Dr. Elisabeth Steiner, Deputy President of the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division.

The first WA Bureau decision involved withdrawing recognition from the present PSI board, led by Lani Velasco, forming a “Stabilization Committee” to run the organization’s daily affairs, while the other decision was to “expel” PSI from its membership ranks.

Asserting that this was done without due process, the PSI board filed an appeal to CAS last Dec. 20. It claimed that it had not been formally notified of the reasons behind both acts by the world swimming body.

Following the Feb. 2 decision, the POC issued Friday a release quoting Atty. Wharton Chan, POC legal counsel and the head of the Stabilization Committee, saying:

“This reaffirms the world swimming body’s order for us in the Stabilization Committee to continue with our task, which, among others, include handling the day-to-day affairs of the swimming NSA, draft its new by-laws and recommend for the holding of elections of its board of trustees.”

“With the 32nd Southeast Asian Games just under three months away, Chan said that the conduct of trials for members of the swimming team to Cambodia is also tops in their priorities,” it stated.

The Stabilization Committee, which also includes POC deputy secretary general Bones Floro and Bases Conversion and Development Authority senior vice president Arrey Perez, has called for national team tryouts on Feb. 18 and 19 at the New Clark City Aquatic Center in Capas, Tarlac. 

A lawyer, who declined to be identified but was familiar with the issue, noted that the latest CAS ruling had not “decided with finality” on the PSI’s plea. 

“This is by no means a dismissal of PSI’s appeal which questions the legality of the decision to appoint a Stabilization Committee in the first place, among other reasons, for lack of due process. WA has not even submitted its response to the appeal,” the lawyer said.

“That same decision on provisional measures actually states that PSI may file subsequent applications for provisional measures to stay execution of the decision to appoint a Stabilization Committee,” the lawyer added, referring to the 16-page decision.

“The PSI may (still) avail itself of this remedy to inform CAS of developments which it was not able to consider before,” the lawyer said, “and the decision actually confirms that PSI is still the recognized national federation of WA in the Phil’s.”

Underscoring the fact that the case was not officially “closed,” the decision penned by Steiner stated that “the costs of the present Order shall be determined in the final award or any other final disposition of this arbitration.”

The PSI board, whose National Sports Association is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as required by Republic Act 6842, the law creating the Philippine Sports Commission, had issued a statement questioning the corporate and legal personality of the Stabilization Committee.

“The Philippine Swimming Inc. (“PSI”) is a corporation registered with the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) as a non-stock and non-profit organization. With or without recognition from World Aquatics (formerly FINA), PSI still exists as a corporate entity under Philippine corporate law bound to fulfill its mandate to develop and promote all aquatics sports in the Philippines,” it stated.

The board likewise noted that World Athletics, in its submissions with CAS, had stated that “PSI is and remains WA’s recognized National Federation of the Philippines.”

“The WA stated in no uncertain terms that PSI ‘is and remains affiliated with WA,” the PSI board said in citing documents presented by the world swimming body to the arbitration court based in Lausanne, Switzerland.