PSC taking over Palaro again?

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One of the unfortunately issuances of then president Joseph Estrada was Executive Order 81 he signed on March 5, 1999, which transferred the management of the Palarong Pambansa from the Department of Education to the Philippine Sports Commission.

In the company of less than a dozen teachers who shared my sentiments, I marched and demonstrated in Mendiola objecting to the issuance of the EO. For some five years, I kept up the campaign by wearing a black t-shirt with the message: Ibalik ang Palaro sa DepEd, whenever there were occasions I thought appropriate to demonstrate, such as the Palarong Pambansa in Naga City in 2004.

In 2005, then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through EO 443 ordered back the management of the Palaro to the Education department for reasons which can be gleaned from this exchange of email between me and PSC chairman Richie Garcia, triggered by a news item appearing recently reporting that the PSC will once again take over management of the annual school games.

Here are excerpts I downloaded from the several online broadsheets including Cebu Daily News:

“The idea of the Philippine Sports Commission taking over the Palarong Pambansa again sounds great–except that it would be a gargantuan problem if not sufficiently budgeted. PSC chair Richie Garcia said the agency faced a financial dilemma years ago when the country’s premier multi-event meet for elementary and high school athletes was transferred from the Department of Education. Garcia was a commissioner of the agency when the PSC was tasked with running the show during the presidency of Joseph Estrada. ‘We had financial problems back then, so I hope when the PSC takes over the Palaro, the allocation will be included,’ said Garcia.”

But Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. is again pushing for the PSC takeover of the Palaro to make it a vital component of the agency’s grassroots development program. Cojuangco said national sports associations should exercise direct control over the running of their respective events in the Palaro. He added that the NSAs’ hands-on involvement would boost the country’s search for new talents who would then be included in the developmental pool for the national team. ‘The Palaro has no use if the NSAs are not involved,’ said Cojuangco. ‘There’s no continuity in the progress of these athletes after competing in the Palaro.’”

As DepEd director of PE and sports during the incumbency of Presidents Marcos, Aquino, and Ramos, I was directly involved in the management of the Palarong Pambansa. Noting the misconceptions of Garcia and Cojuangco regarding the management of the games, I sent on Jan. 3 this email to the former and two of his commissioners, Jolly Gomez and Akiko Tompson-Guevarra:

I read today the plan of the PSC to take over the management of the DepEd Palarong Pambansa. May I advise you against it for the following reasons:

1. The Palarong Pambansa is DepEd’s laboratory for their PE and School Sports program. It is where its athletes are identified and trained, where their coaches and PE teachers find the opportunity to exercise their professions. Depriving them of this experience will curtail their own professional development and advancement.

2. The PSC does not have the field personnel to undertake the implementation of the various multi-level components of the Palaro: school intramurals, district meet, division meet and regional meet. You only see the national Palaro but fail to see the lower level components. As the DepEd people say: “Kami na nag namunla, nagtanim, nagani, nagbayo, nagsaing, naglatad ng pagkain para kumain lang ang PSC?” Think about that.

3. It seems that the PSC wants to take over the Palaro provided that funding is provided. In other words, the motivation of PSC is to get funds. The DepEd, in case you forget, is awash with funds this time around. They can just tell you to take your money for all they care. The DepEd people can allocate P30 to P50 million from their budget and hold the Palaro and you will be out of the picture.

4. I received several text messages just now telling me about your plan and asking me to help them convey to you their concern: that Monico Puentevella is again behind the plan when in fact, it was he who convinced then DepEd Secretary Bro. Andrew Gonzales to turn over the Palaro to PSC…and again through his intercession, when noting the incapability of the PSC to do the job, was instrumental in returning the Palaro to DepEd for the 2005 Palaro in Iloilo. They said they perceived this intent of Puentevella during the recent PSC national conference.

5. Also, that Peping Cojuangco is pushing for the same. Please note that Cojuangco’s argument that the PSC and POC should have control of the Palaro to have continuity is fallacious. Why do I say this? After the Palaro, whoever will manage the games, the talents are identified and are turned over to the NSAs to train and develop. What control and continuity is Cojuangco talking about? The Palaro is a process that starts in the schools, up to the Palarong Pambansa. Can the PSC and POC handle the training and preparation of the athletes down at the school, district, division and regional levels when it does not have the people to do this? Kaya ang sabi ng mga DepEd who texted me: Ginagago lang daw sila ng PSC and POC. That’s a serious allegation which can create animosity between the PSC and the DepEd.

I share you these information/perceptions for whatever they are worth, and because I want the sincerity which the PSC Board is now manifesting, something I can sense to put in place a culture of transparency in the way you run the Commission.

Your efforts to create a sense of transparency could be futile at the way you are pursuing to take control of the DepEd Palarong Pambansa and asking funds to do it when everybody knows the PSC can’t do it due to lack of organizaion.

By the way, when PSC was managing the Palarong Pambansa, it utilized the services of NSA people instead of the DepEd teacher-tech officials. Guess what happened? The motivation of NSA people being different from teachers, they went along with officiating the games at the early stages. When the final round was to start, these people started asking for higher pay and threatened they will not officiate unless they were given the remuneration they demanded. In all the history of the Palaro, that never happended. Only when PSC using NSA personnel took over officiating chores.

Here’s an excerpt from chairman Garcia’s response.

“I am with you regarding the Palaro. It is too big for PSC to handle. I am not for it, and will not ask for it. I was a commissioner during the time that it was given to PSC, and I honestly think it was a mess. If it is mandated that the Palaro will be given to us, then we will just have to do our best and try to make the best Palaro.

You are right about the Palaro that it is not just the games. It is the training in schools and the regional, and everything that makes the Palaro…

Thank you for the advice on this. We will just do our job and work on what is good for our athletes and what is good for Philippine sports. Richie.”

I hope and pray the conflicting motives of the PSC chairman and the POC president regarding the management of the Palarong Pambansa will be reconciled. As I said, Let’s Keep the Palaro with the DepEd.

(Back to MetroPost HOME PAGE)

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