SENATOR Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero has dared heads of national sports association to walk the talk when they undergo evaluation in seeking government financial support.
Escudero, an independent vice-presidential candidate, said NSA leaders tend to “overpromise” in assessing their performance as each of the 42 regular members of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) compete for chunks in the very limited budget available from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
The POC also has five associate member organizations and has given special recognition to five more sports groups.
The PSC is in charge of the country’s participation in the various international competitions like the Southeast Asian Games, the Asian Games, Olympics and the various Asian and World Championships being held for each sport.
Majority of the NSAs, however, have not been performing well in the past years, resulting in the Philippines’ dipping performance in the SEA Games, considered as the lowest among the international events the country takes part in.
Since the Philippines won the SEA Games overall championship in 2005, less than a year since presidential uncle Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco took over as POC president from Celso Dayrit, it has been downhill for Filipino athletes since.
The Philippines has not breached past fifth place since then. It placed sixth in Thailand (2007), fifth in Laos (2009), sixth in Indonesia (2011), seventh in Myanmar (2013) and sixth again in Singapore this year.
The last time the Philippines competed in the Asian Games, only Filipino-American BMX rider Daniel Caluag brought home a gold medal from Incheon, Korea.
Heading to next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, only Filipino-American Eric Shaun Cray has secured a spot in the men's 400-meter hurdles in track and field.
“This goes to show how far we have moved in terms of developing our athletes to equal or near world class standards,” Escudero said. “NSA leaders should be truthful with their assessment of their chances when they present their programs to the PSC. Only a few NSAs have delivered, if we are to gauge their performance in the past years, most especially in the SEA Games.”
Still seeking their tickets to the Rio Games are boxers Clark Bautista, Felix Eumir Marcial and Roger Ladon. Also competing in various Olympic qualifying meets are weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia, pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and Caluag.
“Other than them, mukhang wala na tayong chance. We should rally behind these athletes,” Escudero said.
Escudero also said the country should place its hopes on the boxers as they are always the Philippines’ source of pride and joy in the Olympics.
“Marami nga lang nakakapansin ngayon na dati, hirap lang tayong manalo ng gold medal. Pero ngayon, nahihirapan na din tayong mag-qualify. But still, we can bank on these young athletes and hope they satiate our thirst for an Olympic gold,” Escudero said.