Karatekas express loss of confidence to PKF chief Romasanta

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 24, 2018 06:43 PM
Karatekas blast PKF president Romasanta
Karate national team members signed and released a formal manifesto expressing their loss of confidence to the leadership of the PKF under president Joey Romasanta and secretary general Raymund Lee Reyes.

Majority members of the karate national team are hopeful the internal problem within their federation will finally come to an end in order for them to fully concentrate in their training for the Asian Games in Jakarta.

The training of the karatekas is currently left under the supervision of the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) under technical director Marc Velasco following the decision of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to suspend all national team coaches amidst the issue over alleged misappropriation of government funds by the Philippine Karatedo Federation (PKF).

The controversy also led to the suspension of financial assistance to the PKF by the PSC pending the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the matter, although the national athletes continue to receive their monthly allowances from the government sports agency.

“Nakakalungkot mang isipin na nandito tayo sa ganitong sitwasyon na ito,”said Mae Soriano, a bronze medalist in the last Asiad in Incheon, South Korea. “Kaming mga atleta rin kasi yung ndadamay kaya as soon as possible, gusto ko na rin na matapos ito para kami ay maka-focus na rin sa training.”

Soriano was among the 18 national team members who signed and released a formal manifesto expressing their loss of confidence to the leadership of the PKF under president Joey Romasanta and secretary general Raymund Lee Reyes.

They issued their official stand during Tuesday’s session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Tapa King Restaurant in Farmer’s Market, Cubao, where they furnished members of media copies of their statement for the very first time.

Commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) accompanied the group of karatekas composed of Soriano, Rexor Tacay, John Paul Bejar, Jayson Ramil Macaalay, Miyuki Takay, Orencio James (OJ) Delos Santos, and team captain Engene Dagohoy.

The seven karatekas sought the help of Fernandez when they learned in his Facebook post about the budget the PSC gave to the PKF for use in their training abroad prior to the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“We found out that our federation officials have been cheating on us and have been using us to make money out of our hardships and sacrifices for the federation,” part of the athletes’ statement read. “We thought all this time the PSC was not giving us enough support because every time we travel, our leaders will always say the PSC did not give us enough funds for us to sustain our trip and four our plans and programs.”

Led by Dagohoy, the karatekas related their ordeal while in training camps in Europe, on how they had to make use of the meager budget given them by the PKF.

“We all realized that if we don’t speak up, we’re gonna suffer the next year, and also the next generation of athletes are going to suffer like we did,” said Delos Santos, the acknowledged speaker of the group during the same forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Tapa King, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Fernandez reiterated the support of the PSC to the athletes.

Ang message na sinabi sa akin in chairman (Butch Ramirez) on this is ‘Mon, we’re going all the way out in this case,’” said the former PBA great, a four-time league MVP. 

“That’s why aside from the (PSC) Task Force which is headed by Atty. Sarah Frivaldo, two other lawyers are handling this case together with the NBI. That’s why chairman Butch wanted the NBI to come in para hindi nila sabihin n PSC lang ang nag-iimbestiga.”

Fernandez said he expects the NBI to release a recommendation on the probe within the week, since two more PKF officials went to the bureau last Monday to add more information on the issue.

The karatekas could only hope for the best.

“Sana itong negative vibes ay magiging motivation para sa amin dahil malapit na yung Asian Games,” stressed Soriano. “Sana mag-focus na po tayo (sa Asiad) and wish na matapos na ito para back to normal na ulit ang lahat.”  

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