View Full Version : Politics and Sports

06-17-2009, 09:26 PM
from http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=sports6_june16_2009
By Ronnie Nathanielsz

TO say that Philippine sports is in an unmitigated mess would probably be an understatement. But the sad part is that it’s our fine athletes and invariably the public that suffer from the petty bickering and political wrangling within the leadership of many national sports associations, highlighted by the obvious bitter quarrel at the highest level between Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Harry Angping.

Angping, an ally of Arturo Macapagal, a fine gentleman we might add, never did anything substantial for softball when he headed that association and his appointment at PSC chairman makes no sense unless, as some people claim, he was appointed to make life miserable for Cojuangco, who defeated Macapagal in the POC elections.

With both men being former congressmen, obviously with opposite political inclinations, it once again dramatizes the curse of having politicians interfere in Philippine sports. By and large, it’s the politicians who have wrecked the fabric of our national life—although there are some good men and women in both houses of Congress—and sent us reeling behind most of our Asian neighbors, who at one time, looked up to the Philippines as a leader at least in Southeast Asia.

What is aggravating the situation is the tendency of international federations to also interfere in what should be strictly internal affairs and themselves engage in political maneuvering marred by dubious actions.

It’s this combination of incompetent local leaders, many lacking in integrity, which we look at as the quality of wholeness and international federation officials who often strive to impose their will on us, that is effectively destroying Philippine sports and driving good and decent men, who wish to honestly help, away from it all.

How in the name of sanity can we expect the major players in Philippine business to carry the load in supporting sports in the face of the sickening conflicts at almost every level and the suspicions of wrongdoing?

We recently saw the copy of a letter from the international governing body for basketball—Fiba—signed by secretary-general Patrick Baumann addressed to the so-called leaders of the defunct, if not discredited, Basketball Association of the Philippines—politicians Luis Villafuerte and Prospero Pichay as well as Graham Lim and Bonnie Alentajan, following a meeting last May in Hong Kong.

In a serious violation of common decency, Baumann apparently did not copy the Fiba and POC-recognized national association, headed by the esteemed businessman-sportsman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who has poured millions into redeeming international respect for the Philippines successfully, after an era of pathetic incompetence, where the Philippines became the favorite whipping boy and the laughing stock in Asian basketball.

What Baumann and Fiba did was unthinkable because after he himself visited Manila and recognized Mr. Pangilinan and the new federation that replaced the BAP, he apparently turned around and questioned the institutional legitimacy of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, which Fiba itself institutionally approved and which brought together the leading leagues in the Philippines including the Philippine Basketball Association, the Philippine Basketball League, University Athletic Association of the Philippines, National Collegiate Athletic Association and others.

The Fiba decision to create a special commission for the Philippines, which any half-wit will realize was instigated by Baumann at whose prodding we can only guess, simply means that Fiba is virtually recognizing a group of disgruntled elements who had been replaced and is ready to listen to them.

What stinks to our mind was that among those named to the special commission was Carl Menky Ching. Isn’t he the individual who was barred from entering Australia for the 2000 Olympic Games even though he was Fiba president? And wasn’t he prevented from watching the Fiba World Basketball Championships, when he was Fiba president? Was the decision not to allow Carl Menky Ching to enter because of seriously questionable relationships and dealings in the past and his being seen when unsavory elements were meeting in a Hong Kong hotel some years ago when it was still a British crown colony and which the Hong Kong newspapers and even the widely-read columnist Quinito Henson wrote about?

To add insult to injury, Baumann, in his letter, said Lim was being reinstated as a member of the Fiba Youth Commission. While we have personally taken a position that Lim should not be deported, the Supreme Court has ruled with finality that Lim is not a Philippine citizen and should be deported. Yet, Baumann, in a direct affront to the highest court in our land by his actions, refuses to respect its decision. Are we to tolerate such arrogance just because it is an international federation?

It is high time we stand together and demonstrate our self-respect against international federations that play games with us and pit one group against the other in order that they might benefit one way or another. And while we respect Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s call for a moral reformation and his allegations that the country was not following the law and was “suffering from broken morals because of corruption,” perhaps the honorable chief justice should first look at the backyard of the judiciary and institute reforms and while he is about it find out why the Supreme Court decision on Lim is not being implemented.