August 14, 2014
Written by Ed Andaya
Published in Other Sports

LIES, lies, lies.

These were the words of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia in reaction to claims that the government sports agency will withhold financial assistance to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) if it allowed GM Wesley So to transfer to the United States Chess Federation (USCF).

“I have always said that the PSC has nothing against our GM Wesley So even as he finally decided to switch federation from the NCFP to the USCF. Personally, I wish him well in his dream to become a world chess champion because I know, no matter what happens, he will always be a Filipino,” said Garcia in an interview with the Journal Group of Publications.

Garcia denied the PSC will stand in the way of this life-long Filipino dream of producing a world champion in sports.

“There’s no truth to reports that the PSC is telling the NCFP to prevent Wesley So from transferring to the USCF by refusing to sign an agreement releasing him. As a government sports agency, we all know we cannot meddle in the affairs of the NCFP or any other national sports association. That will already be government intervention in sports,” explained Garcia.

“But if there’s a need for my signature so that Wesley can move on, I will sign,” said Garcia.

Garcia, a former national athlete himself, said the PSC is mandated to financially support the NCFP even if So is removed from the list of priority athletes.

“The PSC has approved an annual budget of about P15-million to support the NCFP and its program. In fact, I even wanted to personally increase the budget because of the good performances of some young and talented individual players in age-group tournaments,” said Garcia.

“In the World Chess Olympiad alone, we have already released a budget of P1.9 million for the expenses of the 10-man Filipino delegation.”

PSC executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy said the NCFP receives one of the biggest slices in the PSC budget, along with Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA), Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) and other priority sports.

“In past PSC administrations, the NCFP received a budget of only P3 million or less. The NCFP has P15-million now.That’s too big,” said Iroy.

Garcia’s statement came after NCFP president Prospero “Butch” Pichay was reported to have told So and his United States-based coaches Susan Polgar and Paul Truong that he cannot give his consent for So’s immediate release because the “NCFP and Mr. Garcia will cut the funding to all chess players in the Philippines and that it is his duty to protect the interest of the chess federation and not Wesley.”

The unfavorable outcome of the So-Pichay meeting in Tromso went viral as early as Wednesday with netizens all over the world criticizing the mishandling of the So situation by top sports officials.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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