Cojuangco’s Christmas comeuppance
SACRAMENTO, California—The Grinch who stole Christmas from Philippine sports in 2016 may get his comeuppance this holiday season.
Top killjoy and former Tarlac Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. has been theoretically stripped of Philippine Olympic Committee presidency the strength of a decision handed down by the courts this week.
Judge Maria Garcia Cadiz-Casaclang of the Pasig Regional Trial Court has declared null and void the POC polls of Nov. 16, 2016, that installed Cojuangco to an unprecedented fourth four-year term.
The judge ordered that new elections be held on Feb. 23, 2018, to include boxing head Ricky Vargas and cycling’s Abraham Tolentino.
Both officials were disqualified on a general assembly attendance technicality last year by the POC’s obedient commission on elections to run as president and chair, respectively.
As expected, the court’s ruling has been met with silence and indifference by Peping and his cohorts. They will likely seek legal relief while crying government intervention that will “jeopardize” the Philippines’ standing in the International Olympic Committee.
If after more than 13 years into Cojuangco’s regime, he and his toadies who railroaded Vargas and Tolentino would come to their senses and give way to democratic vote, a change of leadership could be in the offing for Philippine sports.
And Vargas, the president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) stands ready to give Cojuangco a formidable opposition—his first since edging out the late Arthur Macapagal by a mere two votes 21-19 in 2008.
With an agenda of good governance sans politics, the 65-year-old Vargas says he hopes to turn local sports around for the sake of athletes. He will make an “even bigger push for the POC top post” this time around, according to a spokesperson.
Abap executive director Ed Picson said the court’s recent ruling is no longer about his boss “but the right of the national sports associations to have a leader of their choice.”
“The court decision has restored that right and Mr. Vargas will give sports leaders the viable option they have been clamoring for,” said Picson.
Even without a free process last year, many in Cojuangco’s cabal were reportedly ready to jump ship to discreetly hand Vargas the majority until he was cut down at the knees by Peping and company.
Picson claims that Vargas’ support has been solidifying.
“In the past months, we have been receiving overwhelming … support from the members of the POC,” said Picson. “They have long realized that the present dispensation has been bereft of vision … Philippine sports needs Ricky Vargas to fill the yawning gap.”
Picson said a “great majority of the POC stakeholders are aware of the rudderless ship they are in. We had the numbers [to win] even last year.”
“However, many are still in the shadows for fear of reprisal,” he stressed. “Their only condition is that there be a fair election and that Vargas is a candidate …”
A blessed Christmas and a bountiful New Year to all!
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