THE intention is noble but there is something wrong with how the Department of Education is implementing its rule on athlete’s eligibility for the Palarong Pambansa.

Because of the stakes (and brownie points) coaches, parents and DepEd officials love to hurl complaint after complaint whenever they lose in the Palarong Pambansa. If they could, they’d probably question the color of an athlete’s shoes or socks. And who can blame them? History shows that cheats have won in the Palarong Pambansa, remember the 17-year-old college freshman who played in the ELEMENTARY boys baseball some eight years ago?

But I thought that was history and a more rigid screening process, and stiffer penalties for cheats, have discouraged cheats. It turns out that’s not the case because of these new rule of DepEd, which requires all Palarong Pambansa athletes to be screened and interviewed in the regional meet level.

Before they even get to play in the Palaro, before they even get to be considered for their region’s delegation, DepEd wants the athletes’ eligibility to be resolved. Which is a noble move, but look at what it has led to? A 13-year-old Cebu City taekwondo gold medalist was disqualified because she failed to undergo an interview, twice. First the school had an exam and the second time, she went to the wrong office.

DepEd called her to inform her she was disqualified from the Cviraa a day before the meet. If that happened to me, I’d render my version of an axe kick to an official.

DepEd Cebu City sports coordinator Zenaida Gocotano said her hands are tied because it’s a rule from the Department of Education Central Office, which for me, is basically just passing the buck upstairs.

The rule, according to Gocotano, is for the Palarong Pambansa but this is the Cviraa, a step lower than the national meet and her hands are tied? Couldn’t she fight for her athlete?

One more thing, this rule is but another classic example of what’s wrong in the Department of Education and the inherent mistrust officials have with fellow officials. Every one is chasing the brownie points, there’s no secret about that. Every one wants to be a winner, that’s why every one is questioning every one else.

As a multi-level meet that has athletes going through the unit, district, city, provincial, regional before finally competing in the national levels, shouldn’t an athlete’s eligiblity be settled in the very first meet she joins? It saves everyone a lot of trouble if all eligibility issues are already settled before the next step in the multi-level event. Shouldn’t there be an element of good faith, that when you compete in the provincial or regional level, that your competitors have undergone the same screening process are you and are deemed eligible?

But in DepEd, there is so much distrust, even within the delegation. That’s a natural case when you have fierce competitors suddenly teaming up as one delegation.