ATHLETICS chief Go Teng Kok appears to turn from hawk to dove in his dealings with the Philippine Olympic Committee.
While we chatted early this week, I sensed he was extending the olive branch to the country’s Olympic governing body.
Go was banished from and declared persona non grata by the POC two years ago for “acts inimical to its members.” Translation: He had the balls to rock the boat by filing civil cases against POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and other officials for his ouster as head of the national sports association for karatedo.
To get even, the POC hurled a legal challenge to Go’s presidency of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa), a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Eventually, the High Tribunal ruled amid technical glitzes by POC lawyers that Go was indeed the lawful Patafa head.
Go has since withdrawn all cases against Cojuangco and company, a scenario that cleans the slate for both sides. His wish is to get his legitimacy back before he relinquishes his 23-year hold on the Patafa and heads to his rocking chair. He said his last official act would be to preside over an election to pick his successor.
Of late, it is business as usual in Go’s shop while Filipino tracksters prepare for the Southeast Asian Games in Burma (Myanmar) this December.
He was to leave for the United States last Wednesday with commissioner Jolly Gomez of the Philippine Sports Commission to seal the deal with American speed specialist Ryan Flaherty. But the trip was cancelled at the last minute.
With no clue about Patafa’s priority athletes, coach Flaherty says confidently they’re good for at least seven gold medals at the SEA Games—a boast that initially made a doubting Thomas of Go.
Meantime, back at the ranch, the POC has not wavered from its hardline stance on Go.
POC first vice president and official spokesman Joey Romasanta says lifting Go’s persona non grata status is risky business. “If he’s back, he may never leave as he promised,” Joey said matter-of-factly.
It is no secret that if Go were the strongman of a military junta, the POC, the superpower would relish yanking the carefully cantilevered epaulets off his shoulders.
The POC would like to be present at the recreation of the Patafa minus Go. But Romasanta said, in the interest of track and field and all of Philippine sports, the POC is forced to prop up Go’s holdover presidency until the Patafa holds an authorized election.
To get the polls going, Go’s NSA must have a new constitution palatable to all its stakeholders and will have to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Besides, Romasanta insists that Patafa’s voting membership must be established and ground rules put in effect beforehand.
Having said that, Romasanta said Go will always cast his shadow over the election and will always be behind the eventual winner. “The Patafa is Go’s Rotary Club. What would he do without it?” added Joey without skipping a beat.
Philip Ella Juico, former PSC chair and the agrarian reform secretary under the first President Aquino, Cory—current President P-Noy’s mom—is a viable candidate for Go’s replacement.
Juico, who once thumbed his nose at the Patafa presidency, could be having a change of heart. Go told me Juico will likely join him at the world indoor track and field championships in Moscow next month.