Seven members of the Philippine Olympic Committee executive board on Tuesday filed a civil complaint against the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee for failing to furnish to the POC what turned out to be a delayed report showing how it managed the 30th SEA Games that ended on December 11, 2019.
The lone respondent in the complaint was PHISGOC Foundation Inc. president and chief operating officer Ramon “Tats” Suzara, who was unable to produce the report, including the audited financial statements, as required by the POC general assembly resolution of September 30 that set an October 10 for its submission.
Those who signed the complaint were POC chairman Steve Hontiveros, first vice-president Joey Romasanta, second vice-president Col. (ret). Jeff Tamayo, treasurer Julian Camacho, auditor Jonne Go, and board members Robert Mananquil and Atty. Clint Aranas of billiards and snooker and archery, respectively.
With the exception of Hontiveros, the 6 other board members approved to file the civil suit against PHISGOC, which had former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano as chairman, during its special online session last October 30.
Those who opposed the motion were POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes, board member and gymnastics head Cynthia Carrion, and boxing chief Ricky Vargas, who is a board member as immediate past POC chief, based on the POC charter.
Abstaining were International Olympic Committee Executive Board member Mikaela “Mikee” Cojuangco-Jaworski and POC Athletes Commission member and two-time SEA Games men’s triathlon champion Nikko Huelgas.
The six members of the 13-member board failed to get a notarized certification of the board resolution from Gastanes, a Tolentino appointee, as a legal requirement to file the case, despite a formal query from Cojuangco-Jaworski on the sec-gen’s action over the matter.
But they got one from Hontiveros, who presided over the meeting and did not cast his vote, to overcome the legal hurdle, joining with them in the same plea, according to Romasanta, who said that the case was filed in the Pasig lower court.
The veteran sports hand emphasized that “this complaint was in keeping with the POC resolution of September 30 and as part of our responsibility as a party to the tripartite agreement. This complaint is also timely because if you file this after the November 27 POC election it may be seen as malicious or sour-graping.”
“This is actually for the benefit of all -- the POC as well as PHISGOC. We are seeking compliance and nothing at all. We are not accusing anybody. Who knows, we may be even doing PHISGOC a favor in doing this,” Hontiveros said.
Baseball association president Chito Loyzaga, who is running under the Tolentino ticket as auditor, said he personally felt that “the board is not the general assembly which I believe is the supreme body of the POC. This suit should not have been done by the seven board members alone.”
Squash president Robert Bachmann, former head of the POC Membership Commission, refuted Loyzaga’s notion, citing the POC constitution and by-laws in Article VIII, Section 2, stating that “the Executive Board may deal with all questions of interest to the POC.”
Since the POC is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bachmann also noted that in the country’s Corporation Code “filing of cases to enforce the rights of the corporation in a contract” is not required by the stockholders or its members, which, in this case, is the POC membership.
In the complaint, “plaintiff (the POC) now seeks the defendant (PHISGOC Foundation Inc.) to comply with and perform its obligations under the Tripartite Agreement,” in reference to the tripartite agreement that PHISGOC, the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission signed last Aug. 15. 2019.
Suzara, Tolentino and PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez were signatories to the agreement that delineated the respective roles and functions of the three parties, paving the way for the release of P6 billion in national government fund for the operation and management of the 30th SEA Games.
The complaint cited Vargas among the incorporators of the PHISGOC Foundation Inc., which was formed “despite the absence of authorization by the plaintiff (POC),” with a copy of the board resolution of April 30, 2019 attesting to the fact.
“The plaintiff was originally intended to question the existence of the defendant and its creation with the appropriate government agency.
“However, as the 30th SEA Games was fast approaching and to maintain an image of solidarity to our Southeast Asian peers, the plaintiff was constrained to work with the Philippine Sports Commission and the defendant for the successful hosting of the 30th SEA Games,” the complaint said.
Given these constraints, the POC board approved during its special meeting on Aug. 9, 2019, empowering Tolentino to sign an agreement on behalf of the local Olympic body with the PHISGOC Foundation Inc. and the PSC so that the 30th SEA Games would push through.
The complaint cited several conditions of the agreement that the PHISGOC Foundation Inc. may have violated, among them:
- Submit the required financial and physical status reports to PSC and furnish a copy to the POC as required by existing rules and regulations.
- Ensure that any financial support granted by PSC will not be used for money market placement, time deposit and other forms of investment not related to the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
- Submit to the POC the programs, timeline and budget allocations for preparations, organization and execution of the hosting of the 30th SEA Games.
- Submit to the PSC and POC the required financial reports and make available all records and documents, including disbursement vouchers, relative to the utilization of funds.
- After the completion of the project, submit to PSC and POC financial statements, certificate of project completion and acceptance, and other documents as required under existing laws and government rules and regulations.