Elizalde: Philippines not facing Olympic sanction
MANILA — The Philippines is in no way in danger of getting banned from the Olympics.
The assurance came Friday from no less than International Olympic Committee representative to the country, Frank Elizalde who said the court cases filed against local sports officials “are not serious enough to merit intervention by the IOC.”
Elizalde spoke to media during the Scoop sa Kamayan at Padre Faura in Manila hoping to allay fears that the IOC will suspend the Philippines like what it did to Ghana and Kuwait due to “political interference.”
Ghana was suspended early this year after its laws allegedly did not “respect the provisions of the Olympic charter.” Kuwait suffered the same fate last year. They are now in danger of missing the London Games if their sanctions are not lifted in time.
Fears that the Philippines would also get suspended rose with POC officials facing separate courts cases including president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., chair Monico Puentevella, secretary general Steve Hontiveros and deputy sec-general Mark Joseph.
“There might be a sort of government interference with the way cases are being filed in courts, but I don’t think they are that serious compared to, say, the case of Kuwait and Ghana, which only recently were penalized by suspension,” said Elizalde.
He added that the officials are still innocent until proven guilty. Elizalde also reiterated that he has no police power over the POC.
“All I can do is to make sure that those concerned behave appropriately. However, if those charged in courts are proven guilty and convicted, then that’s the time I’ll make my move to report to the IOC for proper action.”
Cojuangco and Hontiveros are facing malversation charges in connection with the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, while Puentevella is facing plunder over the same issue.
Joseph is also under fire for alleged money laundering resulting from the swimming association’s receiving P38 million from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to fund Pasa’s four-year Olympic program.