MANILA, Philippines – With many of the leaders of the country’s national sports associations (NSAs) squabbling, Filipino athletes are the ones who end up paying the price.
This is what Senator Pia Cayetano stated during the Senate hearing regarding the state of Philippine sports on Monday.
"We have had too much squabbling among the NSAs to the detriment of the athletes," Cayetano said. "Too many athletes in various sports have been prevented from competing because of the factions and differences among the leaders."
This much was established after the Senate heard how the Amateur Swimming Association of the Philippines (ASAP) broke away from the Philippine Aquatic Sports Association (PASA) due to issues regarding leadership.
But the swimmers who are part of ASAP cannot join international competitions – only members of PASA can participate in those contests.
Cayetano said that this is a problem in many sports in the Philippines.
"Athletes who are not members of NSAs, they will never be eligible to compete," the senator said, adding that athletes will be forced to change loyalties in order to participate in competitions.
Change in the rules
Cayetano said the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports will have to look at the current rules regarding athletes' eligibility.
"We cannot go by these rules as they currently exist, because we have too many factions in too many sports," Cayetano said.
"At the end of the day, I don't really care about any of the leaders. The athletes suffer, they are forced to choose loyalties, they are ostracized by their own peers," she added.
Not all sports
But Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Peping Cojuangco contradicted Cayetano, saying that what happened in the swimming association has not happened in other sports.
"What is in swimming is not true for all NSAs," Cojuangco said.
"I believe this has happened in basketball, in badminton, in cycling – that already to me is too many sports," Cayetano countered.