MANILA, Philippines – “God save Philippine Karate.”
Heavy with personal plea, that is how top Filipino karateka James Delos Santos ended his lengthy personal story on his Facebook page detailing, without naming names, how he was left out from the national team that will slug it out in the 30th Southeast Asian Games starting Saturday, November 30, 2019.
Delos Santos is a 2017 SEA Games bronze medalist in the men’s individual kata event and is also the reigning six-time Philippine National Games (PNG) gold medalist.
Despite all those achievements, Delos Santos said, his national sports association (NSA) Karate Pilipinas Inc (KPI), which in itself also at war with another faction, dropped him from the national roster competing in the biennial meet.
The one who allegedly replaced him is no other the son of KPI incumbent vice president whom he did not identify aside from saying the replacement is a notch behind him being a junior.
“In a national team meeting, I was informed that there will be an evaluation for the Men’s Senior Individual Kata dated November 7, 2019, which was exactly one month before the karate event of the SEA Games. I got confused as to why there was an evaluation so near the SEA Games,” De Los Santos said.
“Then I thought again, that going back to the month of August when I was abandoned in Manila without proper coaching or plan, the NSA (KPI) already made up their mind on the SEA Games lineup.”
“Despite trying to stay positive, I had a feeling that my fate was already sealed and this evaluation was just being orchestrated, to give them an ‘official reason’ to not include me in the SEA Games lineup. As I’ve heard, the deadline for the NSA to submit the SEA Games lineup was October 2019,” Delos Santos added.
According to Delos Santos, the evaluation took place behind closed doors with “only the national coaches, kata players, and FIVE JUDGES UNDER KPI were present. When I saw who the five judges were, it was already a dead giveaway. They were Kumite judges who were UNQUALIFIED TO JUDGE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL KATA. I also noticed that the NSA President and Vice President were not there in the evaluation room. Why was that? WHY WAS THE EVALUATION EXCLUSIVE ONLY TO THE COACHES AND REFEREES TO SEE? I also elected not to perform my Kata Sansai, which is a very strong Kata, because I know these judges are not familiar with it because it is not being performed in the Philippine circuit; only in the International circuit.”
Delos Santos added that “The result of the evaluation: I WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE SEA GAMES LINEUP. After the result, the Foreign Kumite coach and local Kata coaches had the nerve to tell me, that MY PERFORMANCE WENT DOWN, AND TOLD ME NOT TO GO BACK TO MY SENSEI IN JAPAN. Who are they to criticize my Japanese sensei? My sensei in Japan is well-respected and has produced champions and currently has players in the Japan National Team. What have the Philippine National Team Kata coaches produced? Who are their champions?”
“Let’s talk about qualification. The one replacing me in the upcoming SEA Games has achievements in the JUNIOR LEVEL. He is the son of the KPI Vice President. The SEA Games is a SENIOR LEVEL TOURNAMENT. The only international tournament where he competed in the SENIOR INDIVIDUAL KATA was in the 2019 Southeast Asian Championships. He was knocked out in the first round while I made it to the second round. YOU CANNOT COMPARE JUNIOR TO SENIOR. The level of competition is VERY DIFFERENT,” Delos Santos stressed in his FB account.
He also said that “the proper way to unseat a National Team member is to defeat him/her in the Philippine National Games. This kata player that they are replacing me with had the opportunity to compete with me in front of World Karate Federation referees at the last PNG SENIOR level in 2018, and he chose not to. He chose to compete in the JUNIOR LEVEL.”
Currently, it is unclear who the president is right now at KPI, which is PKFI (Philippine Karatedo Federation Inc.) before which has been downgraded as a faction pressing for reinstatement with the POC as official NSA.
Since last year month of May, PKFI leaders have been seeking for unification of the two factions through an arbitration process under the POC.
Jose Manansala Jr., president of PKF 1987 Inc., says their group is the official NSA for karate by virtue of a court decision that has stopped the group of POC vice president Jose Romasanta from representing the sport aside from having 30 karate clubs nationwide, and five international groups.
Manansala said his faction has taken the initiative to ask the POC under the leadership of then-president Ricky Vargas and chairman Bambol Tolentino (now POC president) to reinstate PKF 1987 Inc. as the official NSA for karate. (IAMIGO/CNS)