ATHLETES competing in DepEd’s step-ladder tournament only have one target, to compete in the Palarong Pambansa. To get there, an athlete has to win in his unit, district, city or provincial competition, then finally, the regional meet.
Most coaches, at least those who are serious about their jobs, sometimes prepare early for the next rung—the regional—while still competing in the lower rung, the city or provincial meet. So when Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young announced that he won’t let the Cebu City athletes compete in the Palarong Pambansa and the Cviraa as long as Dr. Luz Jandayan and Regional Director Juliet Jeruta are still with DepEd 7, everyone was caught by surprise.
Councilor Young accused the two of mismanaging the delegation in last year’s Palarong Pambansa, of leaving the delegation early while the athletes were still in Aklan.
I don’t know the details of that but similar tales are rampant in DepEd meets, of officials using the trip to become paid tourists—going on a side trip to Boracay, for instance, or conducting an assessment in a resort in Bohol during Tagbilaran’s fiesta two weeks after the Palaro. Of course, that doesn’t mean all the officials are on tourist mode as there are a lot of hardworking DepEd officials who make sure the kids are safe and get fed on time.
The practice is so rampant that in the past, the DepEd secretary had to issue a memo to all to remind them to limit the number of hangers-on and tourists in a delegation.
Now, Cebu City is just a part of the Region 7 delegation, which now includes Negros Oriental, but the City provides the bulk of the athletes and the medals and its absence in the Cviraa and the Palaro will surely be felt.
Should Joy Young push through with his threat? For me, having seen and heard tales of Palaro misdeeds, where people have sort of accepted it as part of reality, having someone yank the tails of top DepEd officials is a welcome change.
It’s time that athletes’ welfare, not the officials’ comfort, becomes the number one concern. This Joy Young vs. DepEd battle is one game I will be eagerly following. It’s just a pity, though, that the athletes will be caught in the crossfire.