Reform group slams POC membership committee head Robert Bachmann

A group of Philippine Olympic Committee member associations expelled by the past administration have slammed recently ousted POC membership committee head Robert Bachmann for inaction on their demand for reinstatement.

The group also criticized him for making contradictory statements in a major daily regarding the functions of the committee he chaired for the new POC administration’s first year. This was in reaction to public pronouncements by Bachmann explaining why his committee was not able to restore their POC membership.

The Reform Philippine Sports (RP Sports) movement, composed of no less than four former national sports associations, has met with Bachmann more than once, seeking reinstatement. The officials of the erstwhile NSAs for dragonboat (Philippine Dragonboat Federation or PSBF), bowling (Philippine Bowling Congress or PBC), volleyball (Philippine Volleyball Federation or PVF) and table tennis (Table Tennis Association of the Philippines or TATAP) and others said that Bachmann has made conflicting remarks instead of addressing the issues. The four NSAs claimed that they were expelled by former president Peping Cojuangco merely for voting against him in the 2008 POC elections.

“You have really succeeded in confusing us,” says RP Sports lead convenor, retired general Charly Holganza. “First, you wash your hands by claiming it was not within your mandate to look into the complaints of the five claimant NSAs. Next sentence, you admit that you are indeed a recommending body. And then next, you wash your hands again by saying you do not handle NSA disputes.”

The group issued a joint statement in May, describing their hopefulness after their initial meeting with Bachmann in 2018, after he had been appointed by new POC president Ricky Vargas to address membership complaints. However, the group complains that, in subsequent meetings, Bachmann changed his tune.

In the case of dragonboat, Cojuangco falsely insisted that the International Olympic Committee insisted that they join the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation, and removed them from the POC. For PVF, a leadership dispute opened the door for a new federation to be inserted by the Cojuangco faction into the POC ranks. The bowling and tabke tennis groups claimed that they were usurped and replaced for no reason, and without due process.

“We merely want what waa taken from us,” insists Jerry Mallillin, PBC president. “We were betrayed by one of our own officers, who registered a different entity with our international federation. We did not do anything wrong, and the POC General Assembly never voted on our case.”

In his statement Bachmann stressed that investigating NSA disputes was not his mandate, and that he only looked into their cases at the request of Vargas. The president of the NSA for squash also claimed that the committee is only a recommendatory body. Bachmann was among those removed from their committee leadership positions by Vargas at the POC General Assembly two weeks ago.

“Then you flip-flop and say you are just a recommending body. If this was so, where were your recommendations on the cases then? What were your findings?” Holganza continued. “Nobody has ever received a copy of your resolutions and recommendations. Don’t you think they deserve to be given notice of your results? I want to put it on record that after more than a year of waiting, these NSAs never received any official document from you. So that at least they would know what to do. Some of these NSAs were looking forward to perhaps being able to help the country by participating in the last Asian Games. But you simply ‘froze the ball’ on this one, depriving their athletes of their right to play.”

The group also recounted the allegedly conflicting statements made by Bachmann in other publications, and expressed the urgency of the situation, given the approachingSoutheast Asian Games.

“Mr. Bachmann, our frustration lies in the fact that you have not finished anything at all,” Holganza says. And now, we realize you have misinformed us, and have practically toyed with the future of so many of our athletes. Why didn’t you come up with a written document detailing the points that would disqualify the four NSAs? Why don’t you answer the points raised point by point.”

The group is planning to take legal action against a Cojuangco for their disenfranchisement, and may include Bachmann and others whom they perceive are blocking their reinstatement.

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