Members of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) raised alarm over the allegation that the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) paid some of them during the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
POC director Clint Aranas said they were disturbed over the revelation made by his fellow board member, Cynthia Carrion, that some of them were on the payroll of the organizing body chaired by former House Speaker Alan Cayetano during the buildup for the SEA Games last year.
In an exclusive Daily Tribune story last Saturday, Carrion admitted that she is one of the POC members who received compensation and other perks from Phisgoc.
She claimed that she was being paid around P65,000 to P75,000 monthly, but other sources stressed that the amount was actually around P100,000 to P250,000 depending on their positions and roles in Phisgoc.
Aranas said what Carrion did was in violation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter that “members of the NOC (national Olympic committees), except professional sports administrators, shall not accept compensation or bonus of any kind in consideration for their services or for the performance of their duties.”
The POC also asserted that its members, especially its officers, should perform their duties on “voluntary basis” to avoid conflict of interest.
“Given these facts and if Carrion’s claims are true and verified, then this has placed our fellow POC members, yours truly included, and the institution in an extremely bad light while exposing the POC to possible sanctions by the IOC,” Aranas, a taxation lawyer and former president of the Government Service Insurance System, said in a statement.
“It is unfair and unjust for the rest of our POC members, including yours truly, who worked hard and volunteered in offering services in the successful staging of the 30th SEA Games without remuneration or compensation to be put under a cloud of suspicion.”
POC members were fuming mad over Carrion’s allegations.
Robert Mananquil, a POC director and secretary general of billiards, said he is denouncing Carrion’s admission, saying that he is not among the POC members who is on the payroll of the embattled organizing body.
In fact, he even advanced his personal money just to make sure that his event would run smoothly.
“I strongly denounce the sweeping statement made by Carrion,” said Mananquil in a separate statement.
“As a member of the POC executive board, I did not receive money from Phisgoc, either allowance or salary.”
Mananquil added that Carrion should identify those who were involved to clear the names of those who did not get money.
“Carrion should name names and should not issue a statement, claiming that many POC officials got paid as well,” Mananquil said.
“The POC, through the secretary general, should release the list of POC officials who got paid by Phisgoc to clear the names of those who did not get money.”
Another POC member, Robert Bachmann of squash, said he was not expecting any compensation despite being offered to chair the marketing and broadcasting committee of Phisgoc.
“I didn’t expect to get paid because I know it would be a violation of the POC by-laws and the IOC charter,” Bachmann said.
“I attended first few meetings, but later on declined the post when I found out that Phisgoc was created without the knowledge of the POC board months after its incorporation.”
Bachmann, the son of the basketball great Kurt Bachmann, said Carrion’s accusation is “unfair,” especially to those who worked hard and spent their own resources just to make the country’s SEA Games hosting a success.
“It is unfair to generalize and justify that ‘many POC officials got paid, too’ because I did not,” he said.
“Name names, but don’t drag us into this mess. We heard about the delay in payments to volunteers, suppliers, contractors and service providers. They should have considered giving up their salaries and allowances for them, instead.”
Philip Ella Juico of athletics urged his fellow members to come forward to declare whether they received any type of allowance from Phisgoc.
“I categorically deny having received any kind of allowance from any party involved in the 30th SEA Games athletics competitions in New Clark City,” said Juico, who led his federation to 11 gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals in the biennial meet.
“I urge other members of the general assembly to come forward and truthfully declare whether or not they received any type of allowance and reveal their role by affirmative action or facilitating these illegal payments by inaction despite their official mandates and duties.”
Appeal to Tolentino
With Cayetano as chairman and his former high school teacher in Ramon “Tats” Suzara as chief operating officer and president, Phisgoc is in the eye of the storm over questionable expenses and its failure to submit an audited financial report.
Based on the accounting rules and regulations of the Commission on Audit, a body that drew public fund must liquidate within 60 days.
It has been 10 months since the SEA Games had ended, but Phisgoc has yet to show a financial statement in accordance to the tripartite agreement it forged with the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
In a previous report, POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino admitted that Phisgoc is having a hard time reconciling its finances since it still has some payables from various suppliers and service providers.
PSC executive director Guillermo Iroy backed Tolentino’s claim when he told senators during a budget deliberation that Phisgoc still has pending payables of around P387 million.
In a resolution on 30 September, the POC general assembly gave Phisgoc until 10 October to present its financial report that will reflect how government funds were spend and how much it raised from ticket sales, merchandises, broadcast rights, sponsorships, advertising and other private sources.
But Phisgoc refused, leaving the POC without a choice but to prepare the filing of breach of contract charges.
Aranas said Tolentino — a Cavite lawmaker and top Cayetano ally in the House of Representatives — should take the lead in holding Phisgoc accountable.
“On behalf of our POC members and in the spirit of honesty, transparency and good governance, we appeal and call upon POC president Bambol Tolentino to heed the urgent resolution of the POC general assembly last 30 September for Phisgoc to submit to the POC its long overdue report, including the audited financial statements,” Aranas said, adding that they want to sit down with Tolentino on 22 October to discuss the matter.
“We urge Tolentino and other fellow board members to a special meeting on 22 October to take the proper measures for Phisgoc’s failure to comply in the POC resolution.”
Aranas also reminded Phisgoc that it is a party to the tripartite agreement that requires the POC to “oversee that Phisgoc accounts all necessary expenses, including sponsorships, donations and the liquidation of government support in accordance to relevant government rules and regulations.”
“These controversies could have been avoided had Phisgoc met the conditions earlier in keeping with the agreement that it signed together with the PSC and the POC on 20 August, 2019,” Aranas said.
“Any further delay will continue to erode the diminishing credibility and trust of the POC members, compromise the institution itself and place the Olympic movement in the Philippines at risk.”