The summer weather is getting hotter, and so is the tension between the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
The PDBF had originally scheduled the International Club Crew Challenge from April 26-28 along the shores of Boracay. But the federation’s preparations hit a snag after it was denied a special permit by the Malay, Aklan local government.
This despite having already paid the local government P40,000 for the special permit and barangay clearance to stage the event. News5 obtained copies of documents related to the payments.
The Malay local government instead issued a special permit for a competing dragon boat event, the 6th Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival (BIDBF) organized by the Boracay Island Paddlers Association (BIPA), on the same dates.
BIPA was issued the permit even though it filed its application at a later date. Emerson Cabal, a private secretary at the Malay mayor’s office who processed PDBF’s special permit application, confirmed that the PDBF application letter was dated February 10. BIPA, meanwhile, filed its application in March, Cabal said.
Curiously, BIPA used to work with the PDBF in previous editions of the tournament. Instead, the group has tapped Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation (PCKF) the technical support group for the BIDBF event. The PCKF has been engaged in a tiff with the PDBF over legitimacy as a dragon boat federation in the country and enjoys the support of the Philippine Olympic Committee. In a statement dated April 12, the BIPA explained its decision to work with the PCKF because “the PDBF made their decision to sever their ties with the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission)/POC.”
In its letter to the PDBF, the Malay government said it was denying the application as a courtesy to the Philippine Sports Commission, which allegedly sanctioned the BIPA event.
The series of events has led PDBF president Marcia Cristobal to believe that POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. was behind the Malay local government’s decision to deny their permit.
This follows a newspaper report stating that BIPA president Nenette Graf asked for Cojuangco’s help to fix the mess.
“Mr. Cojuangco again has a participation here, that’s why the good mayor of Malay John Yap was confused or we can say [was a] victim of harassment by POC president [Cojuangco]. POC is not a government institution afterall. How can an NGO dictate a government official?” said Cristobal in an email to News5.
The PDBF’s tussle with the POC gained prominence amid the International Dragon Boat Federation championships in Tampa Bay, Florida in August 2011.
Because the POC already withdrew recognition from the PDBF, the team nicknamed the Dragon Warriors were not entitled any support from the government.
The POC earlier ruled that the PDBF become itself to the PCKF as International Olympic Committee (IOC) classifies dragon boat as a discipline under the sport of canoeing and kayaking.
However, the PDBF has been insisting that it ought to be recognized as a separate national sports association because it is affiliated with the International Dragon Boat Federation, a member of Sports Accord (the General Association of International Sports Associations), that contends that dragon boat is its own sport and not a discipline of canoeing and kayaking.
Confusion over events
Godofredo Sadiasa, Mayor Yap’s executive assistant, said the local government decided to grant BIPA the permit, given that the PCKF, and not the PDBF, is recognized by the POC and the PSC.
He added that the PDBF’s payment didn’t necessarily guarantee a permit to hold an event.
In a letter to Cristobal, Yap wrote that he denied the permit “to prevent any confusion and controversy arising out of competing similar events.”
PCKF secretary-general Jony Go said that the issue of confusion is indeed a concern. She said it wouldn’t be good if the international dragon boat community were to see a mess among local dragon boat organizations.
“Baka mamaya, wala nang sumali, kahit ‘di na magulo,” Go said. “We’re here to promote the sport and to promote tourism.”
In a phone interview, Cojuangco said it was only right that the BIPA was given the permit because it was working the the POC-recognized organization.
“Who are the real rightful people here?” Cojuangco said in a telephone interview.
Move to another date?
Yap, in his letter to the PDBF, suggested that the federation hold its event on another date. The local government particularly suggested that the PDBF stage their event on April 29 and 30.
Cristobal said this wouldn’t be a problem, as long as the LGU pays for the extra two days of accommodations their guests would be having. Foreign participants for both events are expected to arrive in the country in the next few days.
News5 repeatedly tried to speak to Yap directly on the matter, but was denied access.
The PDBF has recently sought the help of the office of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in appealing their case to Yap. Trillanes is the chairman of the Senate Amateur Sports Competitiveness committee.
Trillanes’ office, in a letter signed by chief-of-staff Rolando Averilla, noted that the postponement suggested by the Malay mayor wouldn’t be feasible since logistical arrangements have already been made by the PDBF. It also insisted that there won’t be any confusion should both events coincide.
For now, Cristobal said the PDBF is looking to go forward with its event — even without permit from the Malay government.
“Andyan na yung mga gamit. Kulang na lang ‘yung mga tao,” she said.