Groundhog Day at the POCBy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO, California—Presidential Uncle Jose Cojuangco Jr., hell-bent on running for a third term as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee despite a horrendous record, could be the real-life version of the Bill Murray character in the movie Groundhog Day.
If you’re less familiar with the film, the Harold Ramis classic stars Murray as an aloof and arrogant weatherman who wakes up on the same day over and over again until he realizes and makes up for the folly of his ways.
With Philippine sports under his watch sinking in what a colleague, Recah Trinidad, calls “a quicksand of mediocrity,” Cojuangco fits the profile of the Murray figure.
The former Tarlac congressman and uncle of President Aquino must feel like waking up on the same day repeatedly. But doing what is best for our athletes has never crossed his mind as he continues to ignore the growing clamor for a fresh stewardship of the POC.
In the reel comedy-drama, Murray’s persona is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the world’s best-known groundhog whose appearance on Feb. 2 each year is an American tradition.
Held captive by a bunch of weird men in top hats at the local library, Punxsutawney Phil is set free temporarily to burrow in the snow in the town square for the most awaited event.
It is said that when the celebrity critter sees its shadow, more harsh winter lies ahead, thus forestalling a streak of sunshine that signals spring and renewal.
There’s no need for nature’s forecaster or some fishwives’ tale to remind us of what lies ahead for Philippine sports in another Cojuangco dispensation.
In Uncle Peping’s eight years in the pilot’s seat, wreckages of our repeated crashes in the Olympics, the Asian Games and even at a glorified barangay league called the Southeast Asian Games are strewn all over the place.
There is an aching desire for a tested batter to step up to the plate to face Cojuangco in the fast-approaching POC elections.
There’s got to be someone out there with the will and the intestinal fortitude to clean up the Aegean stables that many of the national sports associations under Cojuangco’s old boys’ network have become.
Cojuangco’s stance at the POC is a textbook example of the power of the presidency—and the ability of the person who wields it to make life difficult for opponents, political or otherwise.
Is this reality keeping possible rivals from coming out into the open?
If it is, God save Philippine sports.
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We mentioned three possible challengers to Cojuangco more than a year ago: Former president Macapagal-Arroyo by a political sleight of hand, telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and his trusted business aide Ricky Vargas by popular clamor.
Pangilinan and Vargas are logical candidates this year, with reports even linking MVP for a “dream ticket” with Cojuangco. But both are keeping mum with their plans.
For the record, here’s an excerpt of my Jan. 1, 2011 column:
“Speculations are ripe that if the highly influential MVP does not run himself, a person he anoints would take a crack as POC chief.
“Someone with the feel for the action told me it would be national boxing association leader Ricky Vargas.
“Vargas, however, dismisses such talk as untrue. It is fiction as far as I know, he said by text message.
“What about Cojuangco himself?
“If he finds the reason and the appeal, he will run for a third term, said my source who reminded that if Cojuangco campaigns again, MVP or his representative would wait another day. This would leave the door open for other intrepid individuals.”
More from this Column:
- Azkals make Fifa work harder
- Volleyball’s near death experience
- Abap still on a ‘learning curve’
- Boxing for pesos
- Sportsmen in politics