The Philippine Sports Commission, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Paralympic Committee on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding officially placing on detailed service (DS) 117 military athletes and coaches of the national team.
Represented by PSC chairman William Ramirez, AFP Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana, Cong. Abraham Tolentino and Michael Barredo, respectively, the four organizations signed the agreement in a virtual ceremony.
Gen. Sobejana, in his speech highlighted the importance of the MOU as it symbolizes the united commitment of all parties to pursue aspirations to bring pride to our country. The agreement which is aimed to “develop potential gold medalists in international sports competitions” has among its provision the option to terminate the DS of certain athletes should there be a case of the ongoing conflict in their NSAs or on cases of misconduct or breach of discipline as provided for in AFP regulations.
The PSC chief, who had the chance to sign a number of previous agreements for detailed service, recognized the unprecedented partnership in this new agreement. He said that the partnership has evolved into a very valuable venture benefitting Philippine sports. Ramirez also stressed that the PSC will have tighter monitoring of everyone on detailed service as the athletes should “act as befitting a soldier. They are soldiers first before they are athletes.”
Among those under the detailed service agreement are three-time weightlifting Olympian and Tokyo Olympics qualifier Hidilyn Diaz, Southeast Asian Games perennial champion boxer Josie Gabuco, 2019 SEA Games gold medalists Melcah Jen Caballero (rowing), and Jermyn Prado (cycling).
“Sports is a battle that brings glory to the country. We are grateful to the AFP for allowing them to be with us in our battle of friendship and diplomacy. They are our frontliners in sports.” said Rep. Tolentino.
Barredo, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude: “We are thankful, honored, and privilege that we are part of this quadripartite agreement. Our soldiers with disabilities will continue to fight, represent and hopefully get the first gold medal (for the country) in the Paralympic games.”
The AFP chief ended his short speech with a reassuring promise. “In the name of sports and in the name of public service, your Armed Forces is not above you, not below you but rather we are always beside you. Sama-sama nating hubugin ang ating mga atleta upang tayo ay magwagi sa lahat ng mga sports competitions across the globe.”
The agreement will be in force for three years, until 2024.
Also present during the virtual signing were PSC commissioners Ramon Fernandez, Arnold Agustin, Celia Kiram and Charles Raymond Maxey, along with PPC secretary-general Walter Torres and Philippine Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Major General Adriano Perez Jr.