"Whatever happened to setting good example and respecting ethical principles?"
Don’t look now, but the Philippine Olympic Committee is clearly in disarray, with only a new set of officers elected in a fair and just manner likely to bring order to the chaotic situation now prevailing at the institution.
After Ricky Vargas’ sudden resignation as president of POC last month, the organization’s chairman, Congressman Bambol Tolentino, wisely decided to invoke the POC Bylaws and call for special elections to replace Vargas.
But the problem started when 1st vice president Joey Romasanta took over as president despite the provisions of the POC Bylaws that he is not qualified to replace Vargas. The Bylaws require the POC president or chairman to have at least four years of experience as president of a National Sports Association of an Olympic Sport at the time of his or her election. Moreover, he or she must be elected from any of the incumbent NSA presidents representing an Olympic sport, and must have been an active member of the POC General Assembly for two consecutive years at the time of their election. Romasanta, at the time he proclaimed himself president, was only the vice president of the NSA for volleyball.
Last June 20, a notice of General Assembly scheduled on June 25 was sent to all NSAs. Romasanta signed the notice.
During the June 25 General Assembly, a participant pointed out that the meeting and any action agreed upon by the members would not be valid because it would violate a provision in the Bylaws that members must be notified 10 days in advance in cases of “extraordinary meetings” called by the POC board.
After some discussion, Tolentino declared the meeting invalid and said it could nevertheless proceed as an informal gathering to discuss urgent matters. This was where Tolentino, along with board members Clint Aranas and Cynthia Carrion, Auditor Junee Go and Treasurer Julian Camacho verbally tendered their resignations, along with Romasanta.
Two days later, the media reported that some of those who committed to resign were reconsidering their decision. Only Tolentino, Aranas and Carrion confirmed that they were, indeed, resigning.
By backing out of their verbal declarations to resign, insiders asked: Weren’t the POC officials going against the spirit of Olympism, which aims to instill the value of good example and respect for ethical principles?
When the special elections push through, the POC would need a fresh start to regain its good stature not only in the local sports community but in the international arena as well. The International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia have already admonished the POC for the chaotic situation in which the organization now finds itself. The IOC and OCA told the POC executive board that resignations should be done in writing, followed by a general assembly to fill the vacant positions in the presence of observers of both organizations.
What is needed now is someone who can clean up the POC and lead it to an auspicious future free of the old ways that have degraded the organization and dragged down Philippine sports in the process.
Tolentino, the NSA president for cycling and current chairman of the POC, wants to restore the POC to its former glory and jumpstart the development of Philippine sports. The POC needs to act soon, and install as president someone who is truly qualified and has the best interests of Philippine sports in mind, especially now that the Southeast Asian Games is just months away.
Last month, I wrote a column published by this newspaper in its May 3 issue about alleged irregularities at the Bureau of Customs where I specifically mentioned the name of Director Yasser Ismail Abbas, head of the Import Assessment Service as a person of interest. I now realize that the dossier furnished this columnist was dubious and I erred on the side of fairness and balanced reporting. I inadvertently set aside the time-honored journalistic doctrine of enabling the offended party to present their side of the story.
As a consequence of my indiscretion, I apologize to Director Abbas who averred that he and his family were unjustifiably maligned and unduly suffered severe distress and anxiety. I concede to having needlessly and rashly exposed them to public shame and derision on account of my column.
To seek redress, Director Abbas and his lawyers who found that particular column actionable, lodged a libel case against me before the Quezon City Prosecutors’ Office.
In filing the case, the complainant said: “The article is evidently malicious and tends to taint my name and reputation as respondents clearly made it seem that I had committed or am committing graft in the assessment process at the BOC.”
He added that the imputations I cited were “completely malicious and recklessly made, without any regard as to the statements’ truth or falsity.”
To amend for my misdeed, I decided to put things in proper perspective. Apparently, it never crossed my mind that Director Abbas is just one of the senior officials of the BOC who were performing their respective tasks under the management and supervision of the Commissioner.
As such, their authority is mainly confined to the bureau’s main office and not to the different ports of entry nationwide, hence, they have no (or inconsequential) say on what gets stopped or released at the various ports.
As insiders know, nothing moves in the BOC without the knowledge and go-signal of the port’s respective top banana.
That said, I must have been wrong to name Director Abbas in the alleged illegal acts at the BOC. That, of course, is assuming that the information given me about the matter was factual and correct. I now seriously doubt the veracity of the dossier upon which I wrote that questioned article.