POC Riddle

An attempt to push major changes to the Philippine Olympic Committee charter came to an abrupt screech when majority members of its board bamboozled the POC leadership from even raising the matter at the outset.

An exercise in futility, as many are wont saying.

Though sound it may be, the proposal did not sit well in the board as majority of the members belonged to the group of former POC chief Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, thus outnumbering the bloc of incumbent president Cavite Rep. Bambol Tolentino, head of the cycling association.

The POC – mind you – is politically heated like the recent twin bombs that blasted Beirut, Lebanon’s capital. It has since become a center of controversy when the Philippine Sports Commission came into being.

 Tolentino and his supporters want to get rid of the position of POC chairman, a sinecure of a post because it did not have any bearing in the conduct of affairs as the president is the lead officer that has been traditionally presiding over meetings and had the final say in decision-making.

He also wanted to set an age limit for those aspiring to be presidents of National Sports Associations who compose the POC membership roster.

I remember that before Cojuangco was installed POC head honcho in 2000, his predecessors thumbed down suggestions to amend the organizational structure of the POC hierarchy because it was working perfectly well due to its simplicity.

In effect, if the wheel ain’t broke, no need to fix it.

From the 70’s to the 90’s, I had discussed here and then the issue of introducing amendments to the old (and antique) POC constitution and by-laws with just about every POC president in those times. Unfortunately, this did not gain ground as the guys at the helm during their respective incumbencies – the late Surigao Gov. Jose Sering, Nering Andolong, Mike Keon (now Laoag City mayor), Gen. Cruz, Christy Ramos, Celso Dayrit and long serving Sec-Gen Francisco Almeda – were cool to the idea because the POC was not encountering leadership problems during their time.

 The post of chairman was a political maneuver to allow and accommodate a diehard supporter of the POC president (Cojuangco) then to come in as additional voice (and vote) in case contentious issues arise, thus increasing the former’s majority hold in the board.

Old hands in the sports fraternity covering the POC and PSC beat at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex knew exactly what Cojuangco was up to but his political clout nevertheless prevailed. When the amendments were subsequently presented to the POC general assembly, favor-seeking NSAs gravitated and nodded in quiet submission.

This deadline beater was a stunned witness to this muted subservience.   

With this background, Tolentino, a former POC chair himself and now holding the reins for the first time, should have – ideally – consulted his supporters and held a caucus among NSAs to initially find out how to go about introducing the reforms without a hitch.

The Cavite solon erred in discussing the merits of the changes he wanted with a hostile board where he was embarrassingly outvoted.

I know the backgrounds of several of those in the POC board.

Tolentino will now be hard-pressed to accomplish his idea, unless…

There is a sure-fire strategy I know which was implemented sometime in the 90’s when POC polls became tight and tension-filled.

I tell you, this approach worked to perfection.

But I am not about to make this public. For the time being, I am only sharing it exclusively with myself. LOL. (Email your feedback to fredlumba@yahoo.com.) GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!