The revelation made by gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion proved to be accurate as ranking Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) officials were found to be in the payroll of the embattled Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) during the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
In a list obtained by Daily Tribune from a reliable Phisgoc source, it shows that POC executive council members and national sports association (NSA) leaders received money from the organizing body chaired by ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano during the buildup for the biennial meet.
Topping the list is POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who served as sports director with a remuneration of P81,344 for the month of September 2018.
Tolentino was still the POC chairman at that time and was said to be the prime mover behind the country’s overall title after programming 56 sports that equated to 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals.
Karen Caballero, the sepak takraw president and POC deputy secretary general at that time, served as Tolentino’s assistant with a monthly salary of P72,805.
Also in the list were rowing president and former POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, triathlon president Tom Carrasco, boxing secretary general and former POC communications director Ed Picson, judo president Dave Carter and surfing president Dr. Raul Canlas.
Gregorio served as Phisgoc director general with a corresponding monthly salary of P127,601 while Carrasco was the deputy director general for operations (P114,201), Picson was the director for operations (P102,217), Carter was the venues director (P72,805), and Canlas was the medical and doping control director (P81,344).
The source, a Phisgoc official, said there had been some organizational changes as Gregorio stepped down shortly after Ricky Vargas resigned as POC chief, paving the way for Carrasco to assume his position.
Carrion, the whistleblower in the Phisgoc payoff, was accurate as her listed salary in the early stretch of SEA Games preparation was P65,102 for being the manager of the ceremonies department.
All in all, Phisgoc paid POC members P977,308 a month and P15.6 million until the conclusion of the biennial meet in December last year.
“Yes, I received money from Phisgoc,” said Carrion, a member of the POC executive council, in a previous statement.
“But I think I am entitled to that amount because I was the (manager) for ceremonies. I worked hard for it. Actually, it wasn’t just me – a lot of POC members also got paid.”
Carrion, however, refused to identify the POC members in the payroll, sparking unrest and speculations among members of the Olympic council.
But being in the payroll of the organizing body was a serious violation of the POC charter.
Aside from questions on the legality of Phisgoc since it operated without the imprimatur of the local Olympic council, which is the franchise holder of the SEA Games, POC officials are also not allowed to receive any amount for their work in other sports bodies.
In fact, the International Olympic Committee charter states 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.
In fact, Article VII Section 16 of the POC by-laws also stressed that POC members “may be reimbursed for traveling, subsistence and any other justified expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties. Unless they are at fault, they shall not be personally responsible for the debts of the POC.”
Aside from that, it also raises a conflict of interest.
According to the tripartite agreement signed among the POC, Phisgoc and Philippine Sports Commission before the staging of the biennial meet, the Olympic council should serve as “oversight” of Phisgoc to maintain transparency and accountability.
POC director Clint Aranas expressed alarm over the Phisgoc payroll.
Aranas said this issue is a serious allegation that tarnishes the POC as an institution.
He added that they have a meeting on Friday and he expects Tolentino to explain his participation in Phisgoc.
“We have yet to get a copy of this payroll list,” Aranas said.
“This gives more reason for the POC to assert its oversight functions under the tripartite agreement. The POC board created Phisgoc to organize the SEA Games as its agent. Hence, Phisgoc cannot definitely claim that it is not an independent body. It must be emphasized that no independent body can organize the same without POC approval being the franchise holder of the Games.”
POC 1st vice president Joey Romasanta said by raising the issue in their next executive council meeting, Tolentino and other POC executives aligned with Phisgoc can air their sides and lay the issue to rest.
“It’s their chance to explain their sides and end these speculations,” Romasanta said.
“They must come forward and explain because it is already affecting the POC as an institution.”