Thursday, December 1, 2011

Garcia on the way out? Gomez, Juico eyed as PSC chief

MANILA, Philippines—The winds of change appears to be blowing once again for Philippine sports.

But it might not be the one Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia had in mind.

While the longtime PSC official said he agreed that the sports body may have outlived its usefulness and that it should be abolished in favor of a cabinet-level body, speculations were rife that he may be very well on the way out.

This developed after Garcia and PSC commissioner Buddy Andrada were summoned to Malacañang to meet with President Aquino on the heels of the country’s disastrous performance in the recent Southeast Asian Games.

Also present during the meeting was Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., who is generally acknowledged as the chief backers of Garcia and Andrada in their new PSC posts.

Nobody among the officials returned calls and text messages, but sources said it was a “crucial meeting.”

The country is fresh from a much-maligned performance in Indonesia where it came up with 36 golds, 56 silvers and 77 bronzes and a sixth-place finish in the 11-nation Games.

Interestingly, the rest of the PSC commissioners were not summoned to the meeting. Commissioners Chito Loyzaga and Jolly Gomez took their posts as direct appointees by the President, while Olympian swimmer Akiko Thomson was a holdover from the previous administration.

Sources said Garcia “will have to go” after the SEAG debacle, adding that Gomez or former PSC chair Philip Ella Juico are in line to replace him.

The SEAG was the latest issue to rock Garcia’s reign in the PSC which drew flak after he and Cojuangco downplayed the achievement of the Cobra Philippine Dragon Boat Team which won five golds and two silvers in the World Championships last August in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Earlier, Garcia said he is amenable to change for the sake of Philippine sports in reaction to a planned bill to abolish the agency in favor of a cabinet-level body.
“As long as it is for the good of sports, we will welcome any reform or reorganization,” said Garcia.

Garcia agreed that some of the crucial provisions in Republic Act 6847, the law that created the PSC in 1990, are already outmoded and should be changed to keep up with the times.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had earlier announced he would sponsor a bill seeking to abolish the PSC and replace it with a cabinet-level government office.

Trillanes, recently elected president of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines, said establishing a department for sports would make sports a government priority since its top official would enjoy the same rank as the other secretaries of the Cabinet.

“If our lawmakers find it wise to make the head of sports a secretary, we’ll go with whatever the law would allow us to do,” said Garcia.

The PSC czar also agreed that some of the provisions in the PSC law should be carefully studied, especially the relationship between the agency and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

The PSC strictly provides financial assistance only to national sports associations recognized by the POC, a private entity.

“There are certain functions that should be studied. For instance, the PSC couldn’t meddle into the affairs of the national sports associations because it could be tantamount to government intervention,” said Garcia.

He cited the paradigm being implemented in China, Brunei and Vietnam, countries where the government provides funding and takes full control of the national team.

2011 Southeast Asian Games

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