PBA legend Ramon Fernandez enters his new role as PSC Commissioner with one goal in mind: to make the nation proud of its athletes again.
“I just wanted to help Philippine sports. Since Onyok Velasco won a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, we have failed in the succeeding editions of the world tournament. In the Sea Games, we have been at the 6th and 7th places, we really have to do something about it,” he said.
“The country’s sense of pride and image as sports-oriented nation are at stake here. We have to resuscitate it and we will try our best to make our kababayans proud of our athletes again,” added Fernandez.
'El Presidente' also has a detailed plan to help him achieve his goal, drawing inspiration from incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s popular ‘Change is Coming’ campaign tagline in the hope that it would also apply to Philippine Sports.
In a well-crafted 20-page PSC blueprint titled ‘Change the Game,’ which he submitted to newly appointed PSC chairman Butch Ramirez and personally shared to SPIN.ph, the 19-time PBA champion cager highlighted some of the measures he wants the Duterte administration to implement through the national sports agency.
“It’s about time to change and redirect the strategic goals and directions of Philippine Sports,” Fernandez said.
According to the four-time PBA MVP, who was at the helm during the early success of the Metropolitan Basketball Association in the late 1990’s as league commissioner, there is a need to decentralize the control of the PSC by creating satellite facilities in the Visayas and Mindanao, with the help of local government units.
“(We need to) institutionalize the geographic and sectoral representation of commissioners to do away with the highly centralized system. Thus, there should be commissioners for Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and for special concerns (special athletes, gender sensitivity, sectoral sports among others). Under this set-up, commissioners can focus on the needs of the regions and sectors with more attention,” said Fernandez, noting that this move makes the PSC’s presence finally felt in the provinces.
“(Focus should also be on the) creation of functional satellite offices in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to provide access for provincial athletes,” he added, stressing the need to construct facilities for ‘results-capable’ disciplines in the community like swimming pools, track and fields and boxing gyms all over the country.
Apart from giving athletic scholarships to deserving athletes and differently-abled individuals, Fernandez is also bent on showing that the PSC is corruption-free, which is crucial to attract more support from the private sector.
To top it all, Fernandez also plans to create a trusted arbitration committee to address stand-offs within national sports associations (NSA’s), particularly in the naming of athletes to different sporting events.
“In consultation with the POC and NSA, (we will) create an independent sports arbitration committee composed of retired officials of the judiciary that will resolve issues involving the POC and NSAs,” he said.
Asked about the persistent problems surrounding the formation men’s national basketball team, to which he was once a member, Fernandez admitted that it’s beyond the PSC’s authority. However, he hopes an independent arbitration panel could be useful in finding a viable solution to such dilemma.
“The PSC kasi can’t meddle directly on that. That’s the issue that needs to be resolved between the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) and the PBA,” he said. “But like I said, we will form a truly working arbitration committee, which will facilitate a smoother talk between the PBA and SBP, and other NSA’s at that. Sa ganung pamamaraan, mas maayos na makakapag-usap at makakapagplano ang mga (warring) groups.”
“Basta, we will make sure na on whatever capacity pwedeng pumasok at makialam ang PSC, we will see to it that we will work for a win-win solution. At the end of the day, we will try to seek measures that will benefit the country and its participation in international tournaments,” added Fernandez.
The pride of Maasin, Leyte bared that it took him three straight days to draft his proposal for the PSC, which he hopes will be backed by Ramirez.
The two-time Fiba Asia gold medalist, one with the Philippine under-18 team in 1972 and another with the men’s team that competed in the 1973 Asian Championship in Manila, believes that Duterte picked the right man for the job when he named Ramirez as the next PSC Chairman.
“Let’s face it, one of the best years of Philippine sports was under him (Ramirez). We topped the Sea Games, which was held here in the country, in 2005 and we won at least 4 golds in different Asian Games under his tenure,” said Fernandez.
“I’d be honored to work with him,” he said.
Fernandez later laid down his mission.
"Under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, our national sports programs should be consistent with the principles of community empowerment, decentralization and will envision a drug-free community for our youth and children," he said.
"We will allow our people especially those from the countryside more access to sports opportunities and facilities so that everyone can have a chance to benefit from the core values of sports regardless of age, location, ability or social status.
"We also aim to achieve milestones in international competitions, especially winning the most coveted first Olympic gold medal during the incumbency of President Duterte."