JOSE ‘Peping’ Cojuangco formally claimed his fourth term as Philippine Olympic Committee but it looks like the sports community is not happy.
Reactions of disgust poured out on social media moments after the 82-year old Cojuangco on Friday won the POC elections unopposed at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
Many of those who made adverse comments were members of the sports media and officials of some national sports associations, local sports leaders and former athletes.
Cojuangco had been at the helm of the POC since 2004 and had promised to initiate the construction of a modern sports training center for national athletes. That has remained a dream.
In this year’s run up to the elections, he again made the same promise.
He ran unopposed after Ricky Vargas of boxing was disqualified. However, it was also found out later that Cojuangco could also be subject to disqualification for age. Olympic rules state the age limit for national Olympic Committee presidents at 80. He is 82.
Cojuangco got 26 votes from the 37 voting members present during Friday’s general assembly, as he officially got the mandate in the absence of an opponent after boxing’s Ricky Vargas was disqualified from running by the POC election committee.
All of the candidates under the Cojuangco camp won by a wide margin. Voting in the POC elections is by NSA representation.
Joey Romasanta of karatedo and volleyball won the first vice president post, 23-11, over Vargas ally Rep. Albie Benitez of badminton, while Jeff Tamayo of soft tennis beat Lucas Managuelod of muay thai, 26-11, for the second vice president position.
Julian Camacho of wushu took the treasurer position after winning, 24-12, over Renauld ‘Sonny’ Barrios of basketball, 25-12.
Jonne Go of canoe kayak ran unopposed as auditor and got 31 votes.
Jesus Clint Aranas of archery (30 votes), Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics (30), Robert Mananquil of billiards and snooker (28), and Rep. Prospero Pichay of chess (27).
Among the six voting members that were absent was Vargas, who had sought a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the POC election but the petition was denied by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court on Thursday.
Meantime, the camp of disqualified presidential candidate Ricky Vargas maintained it will continue to support Philippine sports despite its failure to win a single position in the POC elections, according to a report by SPIN.ph.
The report said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio reiterated the commitment of the Manny V. Pangilinan group for sports even with the landslide victory of the rival camp headed by Cojuangco, who won his fourth term as POC president.
Vargas was disqualified from running against Cojuangco for POC president, and his motion for a Temporary Restraining Order on the POC polls was denied by a Pasig court on Thursday.
Rep. Albie Benitez of badminton, Lucas Managuelod of muay, and Sonny Barrios of basketball – all Vargas allies – were unsuccessful in their bid for the first vice president, second vice president, and treasurer positions, respectively.
“We are committed to Philippine sports,” said Panlilio in the report. “I think it’s not about personalities but the commitment of the group to support Filipino athletes. Even as head of the MVP Sports Foundation, we identified nine sports that we will be directly supporting.”
Incidentally, Vargas was absent from the POC elections as boxing was one of six national sports associations (NSA) that didn’t participate in the elections.
After winning his fourth term as POC president, Cojuangco called for reconciliation after a controversial lead-up to the election of the national Olympic body.
Panlilio supports Cojuangco’s call for unity.
“That’s the only way,” Panlilio said. “I was hoping it was done much earlier than now,” said Panlilio, obviously pertaining to a dialogue called by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez which the camp of Cojuangco snubbed.
“There were initiatives to bring parties together but not all parties were there. But that’s (reconciliation is) the only way to go forward.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about the athletes, Panlilio said.
“Philippine sports is much bigger than any individual. We have to think about the athletes. Ano ba ang kailangan nila? That’s the bigger cause. Marami ang kailangan nila, from training, exposure, to facilities. That’s the only way we can compete globally,” Panlilio said. (with a report from SPIN.ph)