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Sports bodies, AFP seal agreement on detailed service of soldier-athletes

THE Philippine Sports Commission, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Paralympic Committee on Thursday signed the Memorandum of Understanding officially placing on detailed service (DS) 117 military athletes and coaches of the national team.

Represented by PSC Chairman William Ramirez, AFP Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana, POC President Abraham Tolentino and PPC President Michael Barredo, respectively, the four organizations signed the agreement in a virtual signing ceremony.

General Sobejana, in his speech, highlighted the importance of the MoU as it symbolizes the united commitment of all parties to pursue the common goal of bringing pride to the country.

The agreement, which is aimed to “develop potential gold medalists in international sports competitions,” has among its provisions the option to terminate the DS of certain athletes should there be a case of conflict in their national sports associations or on cases of misconduct or breach of discipline as provided for in AFP regulations.

The PSC chief who has had the chance to sign a number of previous agreements for detailed service recognized the unprecedented partnership in this new agreement. He said that the partnership has evolved into a very valuable venture benefitting Philippine sports. Mr. Ramirez also stressed that the PSC will have tighter monitoring of everyone on detailed service as the athletes should “act as befitting a soldier. They are soldiers first before they are athletes.”

Among those under the detailed service agreement are three-time weightlifting Olympian and Tokyo Olympics qualifier Hidilyn Diaz, Southeast Asian Games perennial champion boxer Josie Gabuco, 2019 SEA Games gold medalists Melcah Jen Caballero (rowing), and Jermyn Prado (cycling).

“Sports is a battle that brings glory to the country. We are grateful to the AFP for allowing them to be with us in our battle of friendship and diplomacy. They are our frontliners in sports,” Mr. Tolentino, for his part, said.

Mr. Barredo, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude, “We are thankful, honored, and privileged that we are part of this quadripartite agreement. Our soldiers with disabilities will continue to fight, represent and hopefully get the first gold medal (for the country) in the Paralympic games.”

The agreement will be in effect for three years or until 2024.

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