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

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JULIUS MANICAD @tri­bunephl_JCM

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.”

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