Phisgoc tagged as ‘private’ body, legality doubted
By admitting that Phisgoc is a private institution, it casts serious doubt on its legality to organize the SEA Games as well as to receive funding both from the government and the private sector
A slip of the tongue unmasked the legal identity of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc).
In a bid to justify her previous claim about the payoff in Phisgoc, gymnastics president Cynthia Carrion unwittingly admitted that the organizing body is a “private institution” that is “outside” the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). Carrion, in a message to
Daily Tribune and other POC members on Sunday morning, stood by her previous revelation that she received compensation and other perks from Phisgoc during the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games last year.
She said she deserves whatever amount given to her because she did a lot of work for the organization after serving as ceremonies director — a job that was based only on a simple appointment paper and not an official employment contract.
In fact, she claimed to be swamped with work that she had to take a leave of absence from the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines and let her secretary general take over in the crucial stretch of the SEA Games buildup to make sure that the ceremonies of Phisgoc would run smoothly.
In her previous statement, she said they were given P65,000 to P75,000 a month, but multiple sources claimed that the salaries of other POC members in Phisgoc was pegged as high as P100,000 to P250,000 depending on the job description and designation in the organizing body.
The POC executive council questioned Carrion, saying that what she did was a violation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter and the POC constitution since they pledged to work purely on “voluntary” basis.
Still, Carrion asserted that working for Phisgoc wasn’t a volunteer work since it is a “private institution” that is “outside” the POC.
“Of course, I cannot get paid for the volunteer work in POC like my work in the women in sports committee,” Carrion said.
“I do not get paid, but If I’m hired to do outside work of POC — by a private institution — a lot of work, of course, you need to get paid as I was traveling all over for ceremonies.”
Shot in the foot
As far as POC board member is concerned, Carrion’s latest admission is a shot in the foot.
A ranking POC official in Clint Aranas said by admitting that Phisgoc is a private institution, it casts serious doubt on its legality to organize the SEA Games as well as to receive funding both from the government and the private sector.
Controversy marred the formation of Phisgoc.
In her attempt to clear her name, she dug herself deeper into the hole.
When the country bagged the hosting of the SEA Games in 2017, former POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco appointed Cayetano to form an ad hoc body that would oversee the country’s hosting of the Games.
But it didn’t last long.
Shortly after Cojuangco was booted out of power, Cayetano connived with new POC president in Ricky Vargas in forming a new organizing body without the imprimatur of the POC executive council.
Cayetano tapped his former high school teacher, Ramon “Tats” Suzara to serve as president and chief operating officer of Phisgoc Foundation with three other private individuals and four POC members composing the original incorporators.
The POC executive council questioned Vargas about his involvement in Phisgoc Foundation, but instead of shedding light, the boxing president resigned paving the way for Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, a Cavite lawmaker and top Cayetano ally in the House, to take over via a special election.
In a deep hole
“In her attempt to clear her name, she dug herself deeper into the hole,” said Aranas, a taxation lawyer and former president of the Government Service Insurance System, referring to Carrion’s unwitting admission.
“She now admits that Phisgoc is a private institution and it paid her for her services. It may be recalled that this institution was illegally organized and has been receiving funding in the name of the POC.”
Aranas said even President Rodrigo Duterte frowned on the formation of Phisgoc.
In fact, in a Daily Tribune interview in Malacañang, the Chief Executive said he doesn’t want a private body to get involved in the country’s hosting of the SEA Games because it could be a source of corruption.
“He said he doesn’t want the foundation to organize the SEA Games hosting. He wants the government to run it,” former presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement last year.
“He said there’s a lot of corruption if a private body will organize the SEA Games. He wants the government to run it.”
Aranas added that the claim that Cayetano’s Phisgoc has the blessing of the POC — the franchise holder of the SEA Games in accordance to its membership with the SEA Games Federation Council, Olympic Council of Asia and IOC — is quite misleading.
“It was misleading. They misled a lot of people, including the President,” he said.
“If I remember it correctly, even the President said he doesn’t want a private body to run the SEA Games and hold government fund.”
I do not get paid, but If I’m hired to do outside work of POC — by a private institution — a lot of work, of course, you need to get paid as I was traveling all over for ceremonies.
Another POC member in Charlie Ho of netball added that Phisgoc is categorized as a non-government organization, which doesn’t have the endorsement of the POC.
“The legal existence of Phisgoc was by virtue of SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) registration,” said Ho, who is also a lawyer.
“Since the incorporation itself and the appointment of Phisgoc officials were done without the approval of the POC, it cannot be said that the POC, which is the franchisee of the SEA Games, recognizes Phisgoc.”
Phisgoc, however, managed to receive government funding following the issuance of Memorandum Circular 56 on 25 January 2019 that instructs all government agencies to support Phisgoc and the country’s hosting of the SEA Games.
Financial record needed
A senior POC official stressed that Carrion’s admission raised the need for the financial statement of the SEA Games, which Phisgoc has yet to release until now.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, the source said with Carrion’s latest statement, Phisgoc’s legality is now subject to speculation that could hurt the local Olympic council as an institution.
“That’s why we need to see the financial report of the SEA Games as soon as possible,” said the source, an old hand in Philippine sports.
“Now, everything is subject to speculation and the POC’s reputation is seriously eroding.”
It’s been 10 months since the SEA Games had ended but until now, Phisgoc has yet to release an audited financial report in accordance to the tripartite agreement it forged with the Philippine Sports Commission and the POC.
The tripartite accord also stressed that the POC is the oversight of Phisgoc, giving it a legal identity to check its previous finances and records.
Carrion, in a message to Daily Tribune and other POC members on Sunday morning, stood by her previous revelation that she received compensation and other perks from Phisgoc during the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year.
“These controversies could have been avoided had Phisgoc met the conditions earlier in keeping with the agreement that it signed with the Philippine Sports Commission and the POC on 20 August 2019,” said Aranas, who floated the idea of slapping the organizing body with breach of contract charges if it fails to present the financial statement.
“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.”