Two significant developments emerged on Friday from the Philippine Olympic Committee Executive Board meeting to tackle the issues surrounding the management and operations of the 30th Southeast Asian Games that concluded on Dec. 11, 2019.
One was the POC board’s decision to file charges against the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, which was chaired by former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, for its failure to submit its report on the 30th SEA Games, including the audited financial statements, last Oct. 10.
The other was the refusal of POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and POC secretary-general Atty. Ed Gastanes to answer directly board member Atty. Clint Aranas’ question if they received compensation from the PHISGOC for rendering their respective services during the sportsfest.
Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president and board member Cynthia Carrion and sepak takraw head Karen Tanchanco-Caballero have been quoted publicly earlier that they were paid by the PHISGOC for work connected to the recent Games.
By a vote of 6 for, 4 against and 2 abstentions, the POC board made the decision to sue the PHISGOC in keeping with the resolution passed by the POC general assembly during its online meeting last Sept. 30 instructing the PHISGOC to submit the overdue report last Oct. 10.
Those who voted for the move were POC first vice-president Joey Romasanta, second vice president Col. (ret.) Jeff Tamayo, treasurer Julian Camacho, auditor Jonne Go, Aranas and Robert Mananquil of archery and billiards and snooker, respectively.
Those against the move were Tolentino, Gastanes, boxing chief and immediate past POC president Ricky Vargas and Carrion, according to Mananquil.
Those who abstained were triathlete Nikko Huelgas, who represented the POC Athletes Commission, and International Olympic Committee Executive Board member Mikaela Cojuangco-Jaworski.
POC chairman Steve Hontiveros, who presided over the meeting, did not vote while chess chief and board member Rep. Prospero Pichay was absent.
The vote of Vargas was puzzling, according to Romasanta, because he has gone on record that he agreed with the POC motion of Sept. 30 since it was the “correct and right thing to do,” .
“All the while we thought he had agreed with the general assembly motion so why the sudden change of mind?” Romasanta said.
Aranas, who is challenging Tolentino for the POC presidency on Nov. 27, said that when he asked Tolentino and Gastanes if they were compensated for work on the SEA Games, “they refused to give us a direct answer. All they needed to say was yes or no, but they didn’t. ”
World Archery of the Philippines president Aranas noted that Go, Romasanta and Tamayo had already made public that they were not compensated by the PHISGOC, “so why can’t they (Tolentino and Gastanes) come out with a categorical statement to that effect?”
There is a statute in the International Olympic Committee charter barring National Olympic Committee officials from receiving compensation in the performance of their respective duties.
In Section 4 of the IOC charter regarding National Olympic Committee it states that:
“The members of an NOC, except for professional sports administrators, shall not accept any compensation or bonus of any kind in consideration for their services or for the performance of their duties. They may be reimbursed for their travelling, accommodation and other justified expenses incurred in the carrying out of their functions.”
Mananquil said he was upset by the action of Gastanes, who cited an IOC guideline that would have barred him, Camacho and Tamayo from voting during the meeting because “we were not Olympic sports.”
Cojuangco corrected the POC secretary-general by telling him outright that, if this were so, “then are you telling us that all of the passed resolutions and decisions of the board are invalid,” he said quoting the IOC official.
A corporate and tax lawyer, Aranas said they would press Gastanes in issuing a certification of the board resolution “immediately so we can take the proper legal action against PHISGOC” in failing to abide by the agreement it signed with the POC and Philippine Sports Commission on Aug. 15, 2019 so it could run the 30th SEA Games.
Citing the agreement, among the possible violations he said were to failing to “submit the required financial and physical status reports to PSC and furnish a copy to POC as required by existing laws and regulations” and “submit to the POC the program, timeline and budget allocations for preparations, organization and execution of the hosting of the SEA Games.”
“Gastanes must issue that certification at once so we can file the case immediately. Time is of essence here,” he stressed. “Why are they (Tolentino and Gastanes) stalling?”
Romasanta said that “voting yes (for the motion to file legal action against PHISGOC) would send a strong signal to the public, general assembly, member and national athletes that we are dead serious in securing those financial statements.”
The veteran sports hand said that this was “not for anything else, not for partisan politics or purposes because it is making the POC look bad and in keeping with our responsibility to the POC general assembly to pursue what ourresolution is This is where I am coming from.”
Romasanta said that if they had done this “it would be appearing that we are coddling PHISGOC. They can very well fend for themselves.”