Concoy’s legacy of integrity
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2016 - 9:00am

Former three-term Congressman Victorico (Concoy) Chaves passed away peacefully at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City last Thursday morning and his wife Teena said it was how he wanted to go. He was 83 and is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

For two weeks before his passage, Chaves was in the hospital with both lungs collapsed. A year ago, his right lung gave way but doctors patched him up, allowing Chaves to even accept the position of chairman of the newly-organized Larong Volleyball Sa Pilipinas. Chaves, who was once president of the Philippine Amateur Volleyball Association (PAVA), agreed to return to volleyball to provide vision and direction to the sport he has always loved. He just couldn’t turn his back on volleyball which had become fragmented because of leadership squabbles.

Today, Chaves’ family will bring his cremated remains to Cagayan de Oro. It was his dying wish to visit the second district of Misamis Oriental, which he served with honor for 11 years from 1987 to 1998, one last time. Tomorrow, the remains will be brought back to Alabang. On Thursday evening, Congress will pay tribute to Chaves in necrological rites at the St. James The Great Parish in Alabang. The remains will be inurned after the 10 a.m. Mass, also at St. James The Great Parish, on Friday.

“Concoy had a smile on his face when he left us in his sleep,” said Teena. “I was holding his hand and he just slipped away. He didn’t suffer. Our family is grateful for the care that Concoy received from pulmonologist Dr. (Ruth Maria) Divinagracia and cardiologist Dr. (Fabian) Poses of St. Luke’s. Concoy was in and out of the hospital for over a year so his doctors knew how to attend to him whenever he was confined.”

Teena spoke proudly of her husband’s legacy. “In 11 years as a congressman, there was never a stain on his record,” he said. “Jun Magsaysay, who served with Concoy in Congress, affirmed his integrity. Concoy was chairman of many sensitive committees but never did you hear of any misconduct on his part. That was how Concoy was. His greatest legacy was his commitment to integrity and that is how he will be remembered.”

In 2008 and 2012, Chaves was chairman of the Election Committee that supervised the voting of the POC officers. In the 2012 edition, he organized a first-ever forum where the candidates spoke before the POC electorate to air their views, plans and programs. It was his way of putting the electoral exercise at a high level, taking away the dimension of personalities. The forum was a big success and another feather in Chaves’ cap.

“After the elections, the POC presented a commendation to the Election Committee for “its gallant efforts and steadfast commitment to ensure that the elections would reflect the mandate … its timely intervention to stop cheating and various efforts to frustrate the will of the NSAs … (and) its rejection of various internal and external pressures, leading to clean and credible elections.”

Throughout his professional career, Chaves was known as a stickler for principles, crusader of justice and No. 1 fighter against corruption. That’s why during the last POC elections, he refused to keep quiet when asked to withhold the name of the candidate confirmed to have offered bribe money to a voter. “It wouldn’t be fair to announce such a thing happened without naming names because then, every candidate would be a suspect,” said Chaves. So he bit the bullet, braved the tense atmosphere and gave the go-signal for Br. Bernie Oca, a member of the Election Committee, to make the disclosure before the balloting started. It was no surprise that Chaves did what he did. He was always consistent in upholding what was right.

Chaves was offered to run for senator in 1992 but turned it down because he said the position wasn’t relevant to his primary goal of serving the constituents of the 13 municipalities and one city in his district. “I was being offered a budget of P100 million to run for senator and all I had to do was to accept the nomination but I was committed to my district,” he said. Chaves went on to finish his third straight term as congressman in 1998, tirelessly attending to the needs of his district, spending weekends in far-flung barangays with Teena to address the problems of the availability of potable water, power, food, education and commerce.

Chaves served as PAVA president for 10 years up to 1995. “Our women’s volleyball team was virtually unbeatable at the SEA Games when I was PAVA president,” he recalled. “In 1995, I asked President Ramos for a P6 million budget to host a leg of the World Grand Prix for women’s volleyball and it was given by the PSC through chairman Mel Lopez. That opened everyone’s eyes to the potential of volleyball as a spectator sport.”

The eight-day Grand Prix drew mammoth crowds at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium. “I was hoping that since we got P6 million from the government, we could build a kitty to develop our national team from ticket sales which I expected to be at least P1 million,” said Chaves. “But when we made an accounting later, nobody could come up with the proceeds from ticket sales. I couldn’t believe the men whom I entrusted to organize the event would be so corrupt. Even the hotel rooms of two foreign guests, international president Ruben Acosta of Mexico and Asian president Yasutaka Matsudaira of Japan were left unpaid although we had provisions from the budget and I had to personally settle those bills in the end.”

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