DepED tightens screening for Palaro athletes

Education Undersecretary Franklin Sunga said they are planning to tap the services of the National Statistics Office (NSO) for the verification of the birth records of all athletes who will be fielded by their respective regions.

He said they will request the NSO to directly issue the required certificates of live births of the athletes to the heads of the participating delegations or regions and to waive the regular charges for the said documents.

“This is to ensure that there will be no recurrence of cheating in the fielding of athletes in the future,” said Sunga, who will oversee the screening procedures in the Palarong Pambansa that would be hosted by the city on April 22 to 30.

Sunga, who heads DepEd’s legal department, said they earlier formed  Task Force on School Sports to lead the investigation of past cases involving overage athletes fielded by some delegations in the Palarong Pambansa and to set the screening policies for the games.

Under the Palaro rules, the ages of athletes who will compete in the elementary level should not exceed 13 years while those in the secondary level should not be over 18 years.  

Sunga personally led a fact-finding team that investigated the alleged age scams committed by some delegations from Luzon during the 2006 Palarong Pambansa in Naga City.

Sunga said they found evidences that some athletes were fielded in the games despite failing to qualify for a slot in the team and the age limit.

He said these cases were done by coaches and players in cahoots with some unscrupulous officials of the delegation.

Sunga said they have so far recommended the filing of administrative and criminal charges against those involved in the fiasco.

“These scams have somehow put a stain on the image of sports in the countryside but we are doing our best to stop these cheats starting this year’s Palarong Pambansa,” he said.

He urged the athletes, coaches and delegation officials in the region to observe fair and honest participation in the games.

“Winners are players and athletes who play clean, respect referees and officials’ decisions and respect their opponents as well,” Sunga added.