PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia has denied accusations by Senator Pia Cayetano that the government agency failed to protect the interest of "deserving" athletes who were left out of the national team bound for the Southeast Asian Games because of politics.
Cayetano slammed the PSC during Wednesday’s Senate budget hearing over the failure of swimmer Denjylie Cordero and the national dragon boat team to make the SEA Games lineup despite their creditable showing in recent competitions.
Threatening the PSC with a 'zero budget' for next year, Cayetano said the government's sports arm should have fought for the snubbed athletes' inclusion as part of its mandate.
They Said It!
“I am a bit worried that it is bordering the line of government intervention." - PSC chairman Ritchie Garcia
[For full story, see Cayetano threatens PSC with 'zero budget' over SEAG snub on swimmer, dragon boat team]
Garcia, however, reiterated that the PSC can’t meddle in the affairs of national sports associations (NSAs) since that is tantamount to government intervention - an act that could lead to the country's suspension by the International Olympic Committee.
“She felt that the government should have put pressure on the NSAs na isama sila. But I am a bit worried that it is bordering the line of government intervention. We might be suspended by the IOC,” said Garcia.
Garcia also said the selection of athletes went through the process as the screening was done by the joint PSC and Philippine Olympic Committee Task Force.
“Inendorse ito nang task force. They respected the autonomy of the NSAs. Kung ganun talaga ang gusto ng NSAs, wala tayong magawa,” said Garcia.
Garcia also warned about the repercussions of meddling of affairs by the PSC as well as the possible decrease in the agency's proposed P182.3 million budget.
“We are not talking about isang atleta here but buong delegasyon like the Asian Games next year. Maraming repercussions ‘yung sa pondo. Maliit na yung budget natin eh lalo na kung bawasan, baka magka-problema tayo,” said Garcia.
Nevertheless, the PSC is already preparing a formal response to Cayetano on the issue, Garcia said.