Sports groups hold own rallies
A group composed of concerned sports officials, coaches, athletes and sports aficionados held separate peace rallies in Manila and Cebu Thursday in an effort to pressure the Philippine Olympic Committee into a change of leadership.
And with the target of the rallies, POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco reportedly unmoved by calls for his resignation, it looks like things are just getting started.
“What will follow will be worth watching,” said former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Perry Mequi, who led a small group that assembled at Rizal Memorial Coliseum for the Manila rally.
In Cebu City, PSC commissioner Mon Fernandez led a bigger group that gathered at Fuente Osmeña circle and exhorted the athletes to distance themselves from the politicking and focus on their training.
“Just keep practicing and let us do the fight for you,” Fernandez told the athletes.
Cojuangco, who arrived from Turkmenistan, where he watched the campaign of the Philippine delegation in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, could not be reached for comment but sources say he will not give in to calls for his resignation.
And the group seeking his ouster is bracing itself for a tough fight.
“We will now shift gear and pressure the government to file charges against Peping and those who are found to be guilty in mismanaging people’s money,” Mequi said.
Aside from calling for Cojuangco’s resignation, Fernandez said the rally in Cebu was also to call for a more equitable means for provincial athletes to make the national team.
“What we are doing here is for the athletes, especially the ones from the provinces,” said Fernandez.
“We feel like we are always victims of favoritism and prejudice,” added the PBA legend, who cited the problems of Mary Joy Tabal with the athletics association.
Hundreds showed up in the Cebu rally, which was a bit larger than the one that gathered at Rizal Memorial. But Mequi said the important thing was to get the call for change going.
“The presence of the old and the children, and a very apparent absence of those in-between, reflects the state of Philippine sports,” Mequi said. “The in-between who were not there constitute those who are involved in sports as leaders or managers of sports who tolerate the current practice of [not caring], who are satisfied with mediocrity.”
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