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POC, private sector helped finance Martinez's Olympic dream

February 11, 2014 4:33pm
From R-L, Michael Martinez, his coach Viktor Kudryavtsev, POC official Maria Calaguas, and Michael’s mother Maria, pose for a picture in Sochi. Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters

(Updated 9:53 p.m.) Contrary to reports circulating online that the Philippines' lone Winter Olympian Michael Martinez had to pay his own way to Sochi, Russia, the teenaged figure skater has actually received ample financial support from the private sector, GMA News Online has learned.

The Philippine Olympic Committee has revealed that it had teamed up with the International Olympic Committee and the Philippines Sports Commission in order to give financial aid to Martinez and his family.

Martinez and his mother personally signed vouchers releasing $6,000 from the IOC last November, said one POC official.

The Philippine government and even President Aquino have been the butt of online criticism for purportedly neglecting the country's first athlete at the winter games since 1992.

Furthermore, an examination of records at the Muntinlupa register of deeds revealed that neither of the family's two properties in the city have been under mortgage since late 2005, casting doubt on a statement by Michael's mother that she had to mortgage their home in order to finance her son's Olympic dream, which appeared in a January article published online by The Catholic Register.

$1000 a month

The IOC provided $1000 a month for Martinez from July to October of 2013, plus an additional $500 monthly to pay for his coach. Another $6000 is said to be awaiting Martinez at the POC office upon his return from Sochi, Russia.

"November 19 pirma niya dito e. Pati si Christian Martinez nakapirma sa voucher," said Emil Pastor of the POC's finance department.

"Nandito naman yan sa POC," Pastor added. "Nandun pa kasi sila [sa Sochi]. Wala namang magrereceive dito. May marereceive pa siya na six thousand [dollars] ulit. Alam naman ni Mrs. Martinez yan."

While the POC could not come up with funds on its own, the organization tried to make up for this by processing Martinez’s papers, in order to get that money from the IOC.

"Nung November, $6,000 nabigay. Sa IOC yun galing. Pinadaan lang sa POC," added Pastor. "Pero ang naglalakad naman ng ganyan, POC. Tinutulungan mo nga yung bata na makakuha ng scholarship at allowance."

Pocket money

In addition, the POC has provided Martinez with pocket money worth $50 a day for his stay in Sochi, through the PSC. Meanwhile, his food and accommodations are all shouldered by the Olympics’ organizers in Russia.

"Yung allowance niya, depende yun. Ang computation [is] 26 days. Sagad yun. Kung aalis siya ng mas maaga basta 50 a day," Pastor said, adding that Gina Calaguas, Executive Assistant to the POC President, personally brought the pocket money to Sochi for Martinez.

The final half of Martinez’s financial support from the IOC was released in January. The family though could not receive it as they flew direct from the United States, where Martinez was training, to Russia. The POC has also filed for the reimbursement of the skater's airfare from the IOC.

"Nag-submit sila rito ng mga requirements December, magbabakasyon na," recalled Pastor. "Kaya na-email sa IOC mga January. Dumating yung pera later part ng January. Nasa States na sila."

Pastor added that the financial support given to Martinez is on par with that of other Filipino Olympic bets. And although the Philippine government only finances its athletes, Calaguas has already requested that the accommodation expenses of Martinez' mother be shouldered by the POC as well.

Additionally, Martinez is sponsored by Smart Telecommunications and supported by the MVP Foundation, according to a tweet by Manuel V. Pangilinan himself.

[Related: Michael Martinez's road to Sochi was rough and expensive]

The Philippine Skating Union also gave Martinez P1.5 million, courtesy of SM Prime President Hans Sy, in addition to having solicited P500,000 from donors, for the skater's cause.

[Related: Govt gave lone PHL Sochi bet Michael Martinez what he asked for - PSC]

The PSU also confirmed that they received $7,200 more from the PSC through a request coursed through the POC for the “coaching and professional fees” of Martinez’ team.

“Ang PSU is an independent body," said PSU’s Noel Resultay. “Hindi nagrerequest ang PSU [directly] sa PSC because nagrerequest ang PSU sa POC. Ang request ay naisubmit sa POC nung October pa. I was informed na na-approve. Galing sa PSC.”

Under mortgage?

The position of the POC contradicts a statement given by Martinez’s mother to The Catholic Register, in an article that ran last January.

In the piece, Martinez’s mother said, "I don't even think anyone at the president's office knows there's a Filipino skating in the Olympics.”

The mother also added, "My house is mortgaged. It's a crazy investment.”

However, contrary to reports on other websites, The Catholic Register article did not specifically state if the proceeds of the mortgage were in fact used to fund her son’s training expenses, or their trip to Sochi.

Furthermore, an inquiry at the Muntinlupa City Assessor’s Office and Registry of Deeds revealed that there are no such mortgages recorded on the titles of the family's two properties.

According to Vincent Charles Albert Misa, Chief Appraiser of the Muntinlupa City Assessors office, Maria Teresa Martinez, mother of Michael, is listed as the owner of two properties in Pleasant Village, Muntinlupa - one on Peninsula Avenue, and another on Regent Avenue.

Registry of Deeds examiner Lucy Manalo, stated that the two lots owned by the Martinez matriarch were mortgaged to Export Bank on September 16, 1998, but both were subsequently canceled in November 15, 2005. The two properties of the Martinezes have had clean titles for eight years.

It is therefore unclear what mortgage Michael’s mother was referring to, unless she owns one or more additional pieces of land somewhere else.

GMA News was still trying to get in contact with Michael's mother as of posting.

The quotes by Michael's mother have led to a slew of articles based on the presumption that the mortgage money was used to pay for the mother and son's trip to Sochi, Russia.

No letter

Furthermore, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that an inquiry with the Office of the President showed that they did not receive any letter from Martinez's mother, who said she asked President Benigno Aquino III for help.

"Upon verification with the Malacañang Records Office, we were informed that the MRO does not have an entry of a letter sent from Mrs. Martinez," he told GMA News Online.

But he said that if Mrs. Martinez has her letter received by the MRO, they would "gladly look into its circumstances."

Lacierda added that the Philippines and the government "continues to cheer for our lone entry to the Sochi Olympics."

"Mr. Michael Martinez's appearance in the Winter Olympics is certainly a source of pride for all Filipinos," he said.

Michael Martinez is slated to skate on Thursday evening (PHL time) in the qualifying round. – with a report by Kimberly Jane Tan/AMD/HS/KBK/BM, GMA News
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