One vote


There’s still hope for the swimming community — that’s all I can say.

Last week, when we — former Olympians — reached out to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), its president Ricky Vargas came up with a statement that we should settle the issue among ourselves since the matter is an intra-corporate issue.

This is positive news as far as we are concerned because there’s already a precedent when he and POC chairman Bambol Tolentino brought their eligibility case to the Regional Trial Court.

The case was eventually settled in their favor and they were allowed to seek the presidency and chairmanship of the POC last February.

This is why we are confident that they would also honor this procedure to settle disputes and its result since they are also beneficiaries of such legal process.

In chatter in the media, including social media, a swimming coach asked me if I was part of the original board of trustees of the Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSI) since I graced a press briefing with Ral Rosario, Carlos Brosas and Akiko Thomson-Guevara last week.

My answer was no.

It just so happened that I was with my brothers and sister as we were also part of thousands of disenfranchised coaches and teams across the country. We were unjustly disallowed to swim and participate in the sport we love so dearly.

I continued that we are here to give a voice to all of those who have been curtailed to speak out.
That to me is the reason why we are all doing this.

We want to bring all of those swimmers and stakeholders back to the family. We want to give back to the young swimmers that wonderful opportunity of swimming for the country similar to what we experienced before.

We all know that going to court is a tedious and arduous task, but as the POC president had done recently in the local Olympic movement, it is a way of saying that there’s still hope for swimming.

After studying all the documents presented to us by our friends who were also unceremoniously disallowed to participate by this self-styled PSI of Mrs. Lailani Velasco, I came to the conclusion that someone from outside the swimming community started all these problems we have right now.

The document reveals that in a special meeting on 10 March last year, majority of the board of trustees resolved to officially remove Mark Joseph as PSI president and effectively put Rosario in his stead.

Unfortunately, Rosario’s election as interim president was voided by the POC because there was “no POC representative present at that time.”

Looking deeper, I asked myself: Who was the POC president at that time?

It wasn’t Mr. Vargas for sure because he was elected only last February and he was busy fighting a full-blown intra-corporate dispute in the Olympic family.

Also quite revealing was that how was Joseph, who was already ousted by the PSI board still able to conduct the day-to-day operations of the PSI when he was nowhere to be found and was even able to appoint Velasco as his secretary-general without board resolution?

Was he given special treatment because he was close to the POC president at that time?

Then on 17 February, a hurriedly-called special election was done again without the knowledge and authorization of the PSI board of trustees in which Velasco maneuvered the elections to her favor since no one was there to contest the presidency.

She even went further by changing the entire board of trustees by sheer capriciousness that day.

Nobody knew this was going to happen.

The question was “why?”

The answer to that question is that six days later POC will hold an election. Since Joseph was nowhere to be found and could not be physically present following his removal from the PSI board, he instructed Velasco to assume power so that PSI will be represented in the polls.
They have to make sure that the federation will vote.

For whom?

With the support of a pseudo board of trustees with only 65 members “in good standing” from all over the country backing her up, Velasco attempted to cast the vote for swimming.

But she was denied by the POC as it couldn’t accept her election in good faith.

Days later, the POC under a new president — Vargas — officially voided her election by issuing POC Resolution N-2018-3.

Under the same resolution, the POC effectively suspends all PSI officers pending the resolution of all elections and membership disputes within the federation.

This is the reason why we are left hanging today.

There was a call made few days before that crucial and highly- contested POC elections and that call was for single vote for person who could or couldn’t have made any difference.

There was one vote that changed the course of Philippine swimming history.

What are your thoughts?

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