By Manolo R. Iñigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I AM JUST wondering what happened to the sexual harassment complaint filed by former Philippine Olympic Committee president Cristy Ramos against Philippine Azkals players Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.
Beyond a shadow of doubt, the Azkals—composed mostly of overseas-based players with Filipino roots—gave the sport of football here new meaning, respect and appreciation. But this does not give them the right to abuse Filipino womanhood.
Cristy, daughter of former President Fidel V. Ramos and topnotch football player during her prime, filed the sexual harassment complaint with the Asian Football Federation (AFC). She also assailed team captain James Younghusband for his failure to discipline his teammates. “He didn’t do anything. I hope he teaches his players to behave well.”
Serving as AFC commissioner in the recent Philippines-Malaysia friendly match which ended in a 1-all draw at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium, Ms. Ramos alleged (while inside the dugout before the game) that some players ridiculed her, “with one player disrespectfully asking for the size of her brassiere, which was followed by a roar of laughter.”
Another player, Cristy claimed, appeared before her half-naked during a pregame inspection in violation of ethical norms.
The former President said he and his wife, former First Lady Ming Ramos, agreed with the position their daughter had taken on the issue, noting that Cristy had held various positions in sports, both as a player and as a sports official.
“She sure knows what she’s talking about,” stressed Mr. Ramos.
“The players should behave,” added Ming. Nakakahiya ang (it’s demeaning for a) Filipino.”
Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, said: “Sexual harassment must not be tolerated anytime, anywhere. Such acts should not go unpunished.
“I call for an immediate investigation of this incident…not only because this is a serious allegation made by match commissioner Cristy Ramos, who is a sports official, but also because the Azkals are looked up to as modern-day heroes and role models.”
Former Rep. Imee Marcos, who is also another Presidential daughter, wrote in her Bulgar newspaper column that the Azkals have yet to prove their worth in world-class football. She asked: Has overnight success gone into their heads?
Even though the Azkals landed third in the recent Asian Football Confederation Cup in Nepal and subsequently improved in the Fifa (International Football Federation) rankings from 151 to 148, Ms. Marcos appeared to be not pleasantly happy and decried the media hype and aggressive propaganda machine of the Azkals.
To be blunt about it, certain Azkals players should be thankful to the officials and members of the Philippine Football Federation, who made their stint here possible.
What was their livelihood before coming over? Can they honestly sing the Philippine National Anthem? Were they gainfully employed back home?
On the sexual harassment complaint, team manager Dan Palami had already apologized, but the governing body for world football would do well to crack the whip.