Karate athlete speaks up: What really happened in Europe?
James Delos Santos has been a national karate athlete for ten years already. He won the men’s kata gold in the ISK World Shotocup and just last year, he bagged the men's kata bronze in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
He’s one of the athletes who spilled the beans about the “allowance” brouhaha that took place in Germany. Here’s the complete post on his social media page using the hashtags #StopCorruptionInPhilippineSports, #NoToCorruption, #ChangeIsComing, #SavePhilippineKarate, #SavePhilippineSports
“I’m sure that a lot of you in the karate community are aware of the issue that’s going on. Five of my teammates and I are being accused of causing division and conflict; that we are the cause of why karate in the Philippines is having issues now.
My parents have always taught me to never jump to conclusions; listen to both sides of the story so that everything will be much clearer to analyze. You’ve heard one side of the the story. Please take time to listen to ours.
I have been with the Philippine National Karate team for 10 years and ongoing. I was drafted in 2008. I had to balance my training with my studies since my freshman years in De La Salle University-Manila. There were times I had to go on leave due to training for major tournaments such as the SEA Games and Asian Games. During my whole career, I can say I’ve only had 2 international training camps. Only ONE was a real international kata training which was 4 years ago in Istanbul, Turkey. It has been my dream, as a Kata player, to train in Japan with a Japanese Kata coach, but it never happened.
Five of my teammates and I have big dreams to achieve as national athletes. We’ve always dreamed of getting the best trainings and exposure in the most competitive international tournaments; the Olympic Games being the ultimate. Seeing the previous national team players’ drive to succeed inspired us to work hard. We want to do the same for the next generation of athletes.
When we joined the national team, we were looking forward to these trainings and tournaments outside. However, we were only given one tournament every year. When it was a major tournament year, such as the SEA Games or the Asian Games, our training camps were scheduled only a month or weeks before the big event. The latest training camp we had in Europe caused us to have jet lag since we only had a day to rest upon arriving in Manila from Amsterdam. Then we flew straight to Malaysia for the SEA Games.
On another note, we see our counterparts getting the best trainings and tournaments during the year. We think to ourselves, “How can we compete with this?” It became more pressuring for us when there were high expectations despite the poor support. It became a demoralizing cycle for us every year. Why was it always like this?
This was the same answer for all those years: NO BUDGET or VERY LATE BUDGET approval by the Philippine Sports Commission. This was fed into our minds for the longest time, until I recently found out the real answer from PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez (aka Maxi Green): THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ANNUAL BUDGET. HOW THE BUDGET WILL BE SPENT IS ENTIRELY UP TO THE NATIONAL SPORTS ASSOCIATION (NSA) which is the PKF-NSA in our sport. That same answer was also given by another PSC official. Then that made us realize that something is not right.
We then looked back into our recent training camp in Europe prior to SEA Games 2017, all the athletes were allocated an allowance of $1800. But we were told that it would be a coach who would handle all of our pocket money instead of us. Out of our pocket allowance, we only received €400. We were given €7-10 a day for our food. We were positive we had money left, but it was never confirmed. Then we found out again from Commissioner Ramon Fernandez that there was a separate budget for the expenses mentioned earlier.
This was not the first time our pocket allowance was not given to us. This happened during our previous training camps abroad. It was either an incomplete amount or none at all.
This made us finally realize that we were not getting what is due to us. There has always been a budget all these years. SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BUDGET MEANT FOR THE ATHLETES?
We are so tired of this cycle; we’ve had enough. The six of us finally decided to speak up. We are not just doing this for ourselves; we are doing this to save Philippine Karate. We don’t want the next generation of athletes to experience this situation like we did.
To all the other athletes who are experiencing the same under their respective NSAs, don’t be afraid to speak up. Times are different now. The six of us, along with the PSC Chairman and the commissioners, are strong supporters of President Rody Duterte’s campaign against corruption! Change is coming!”