No family is perfect.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is no exception.
In the previous general assembly, the POC affirmed the creation of an arbitration committee that would listen to disputes within various federations.
When Ricky Vargas assumed the POC presidency following a victory over long-time Olympic boss Jose “Peping” Cojuangco in a court-ordered election last February, he tapped Robert Aventajado of taekwondo to man the arbitrations and disputes.
Aventajado, the former rally car champion who stood as government negotiator during the administration of former Pres. Joseph Estrada, didn’t last long in the position.
He raised his hands in surrender and resigned after some national sports association (NSA) leaders tried to meddle with his job.
He didn’t even last six months.
That’s how tough the job was.
This time, the POC wants to make it right.
Under the new setup, a lawyer who has no affiliation with any NSA will helm the powerful committee.
Sources said a prominent lawyer who is a member of the International Olympic Committee Court of Arbitration for Sports is being eyed to draft the guidelines and put everything into motion.
Since the body will be independent, it will require a filing fee for whoever wishes to be arbitrated.
“We noticed that the one arbitrating the cases are NSA leaders themselves,” said the source.
“So, what we do is to create an arbitration body that is independent from the POC. It is a body that would be free from any pressure or political bias because it has nothing to gain and no interest in the case it is tackling.”
One federation tipped to be the first to avail the service of the soon-to-be formed arbitration body is the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association.
Philta used to be managed by Salvador Andrada.
But after vowing that he would no longer seek another term, some stakeholders, led by Julito and Randy Villanueva, groomed sports patron Jean Henri Lhuiller to assume the presidency.
Andrada broke his promise and ran for the presidency for one last time.
This didn’t sit well with the rival group, prompting it to seek an audience with International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty, who arrived in the country to personally investigate the leadership dispute.
Andrada then groomed lawyer Antonio Cablitas, the Presidential Adviser for Investments, to become the president, much to the dismay of Lhuiller and his group.
The matter is still pending and the POC has yet to formally recognize Cablitas’ leadership.
Another NSA that is tipped to seek arbitration is the group of Ral Rosario and the faction of Lani Velasco in the Philippine Aquatic Sports Association.
Rosario is being backed by a star -studded group of stakeholders that include Akiko Thomson-Guevara and long-time coach Pinky Brosas while Velasco is being backed by no less than their international federation, the International Aquatic Sports Federation.
Another source said the services of the arbitration body would not be limited to within the Olympic family.
If they wish, amateur, commercial and collegiate leagues like the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and National Collegiate Athletic Association can also elevate their disputes or even eligibility issues, similar to the function of the CAS.
Bringing a sports-related dispute to the Geneva-based CAS is a lengthy and expensive process.
The filing fee is 50,000 CHF, or P2.5 million, at the minimum, which is aside from a huge sum that would be spent for the arbitrators’ cost, air travel, meals and hotel accommodation during their stay in the Swiss city.
“So, it’s like bringing the CAS closer to us,” the source said.“Of course, it still depends on the leagues if they wish to be arbitrated. They are free to reach out and avail of the services.”
The source said the POC’s main objective in creating a completely independent arbitrations body is to minimize — if not completely eradicate — the elevation of intra-corporate disputes to local courts.
With that, nobody would seek temporary restraining orders and sports-related disputes will be resolved among themselves without court intervention.
Quite ironic, isn’t it?