Angping-La Salle tie-up displaces athletes

HE may no longer in command, but former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Harry Angping can still inflict harm to member of the national team, particularly to the famous ‘GTK Army’ in athletics.

In what could be part of Angping’s development program, construction workers several of them sporting tattoos in the body stormed the historic track oval inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila at the aftermath of typhoon ‘Bebang’ onslaught and started dismantling the field which was the venue of many triumph and unforgettable scene in Philippine sports.

The demolition left members of the national team without training venue and the GTK Army heartbroken.

“Hindi ko maintindihan kung ano ang kasalanan naming kay Chairman Angping at pinahihirapan kami. Hindi na kami binigyan ng sapat na tulong pinansiyal, pinalayas pa kami sa aming training venue at dormitories na parang eskwater,” said the 2010 ASIAN Grand Prix long jump gold medalist.

“Nagbigay naman kami ng dangal sa bayan. Nagsakripisyo lami para dalhin ang bandila ng Pilipinas, pero ganito ang ginagawa sa amin, binabastos kami,” added the Southeast Asian Games long jump record holder.

Dagmil was with his teammates when tractors and workers, armed with the consent Angping, started to destroy the long jump area, the field where he made history by leaping 7.69 meters in 2005 SEA Games.

“Ang sakit tignan na ‘yung lugar kung saan ako nagtagumpay ay walang hapas na sinisita ngayon. Ano ba ang pagtingin sa amin ni Angping. Ipinagpalit niya ang kalagayan naimgn mga atleta dahil lang sap era na ibibigay ng La Salle,” said Dagmil.

PSC Operation chief Young  Decano said the demolition is part of the reconstruction of ‘new football field’ under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by Angping and La Salle management.

Athletics chief Go Teng Kok tries to stop the demolition and even talked to Ms. Decano but to no avail.

“I’m questioning the legality.  Hindi transparent and MOA kaya gusto naming pag-aralan muna ito. Since may bagong opisyal na darating sa PSC dapat hold muna ito dahil under review pa ang MOA,” said Go.

“Why are they in a hurry. The proximity of the construction to the Asian Games is too close for comfort. Wala ng venue ang mga atleta ko to practice. Kawawa naman sila, lahat sila low morale na,” said Go.

Ace long jumper Marestella Torres is the only shoo-in representative of athletics in the Asian Games so far but other tracksters are still continuing their training in an effort to improve their mark and make the criteria for the quadrennial event.

The Asian Games is slated in Guangzhou, China from November 12 to 27.

“Kawawa talaga ang mga atleta pero wala akong magawa. Hintayin ko din ang sagot ng POC. Wala nang ganda ang mga atkleta ko, baka hindi na kami makalaro sa Asian Games,” he added.

POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr., however, said that La Salle officials gave their words that the oval will not be touched.

“Nangako ang La Salle hindi sisirain ang oval,” said Cojuangco in a telephone interview.

The construction of the field will take 45 days but the growing of grass will take three months, rendering the field unavailable for training for throwing events like javelin, discuss, shot put, and the likes.

A temporary restraining order could stop the reconstruction of the field but Go couldn’t file his request for injunction since he doesn’t have a copy of the MOA.

“Nakatali ang mga kamay namin,” he said.  – By Edwin Rollon

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