Southpaw

Go, Popoy Juico and the Patafa presidency

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ATHLETICS chief Go Teng Kok was on world-record pace the other day. He got on the horn a good three minutes after I left him a message by cell phone.

Go is notorious for making himself accessible or scarce to the media. He wasn’t only swift to respond this time around. He was in a jovial, almost warbling mood.

If his word is to be believed, Go confirms that reports of him relinquishing the presidency of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (Patafa) are not greatly exaggerated. They’re true, he says, and insists that once he’s out, he’s out for good.

There is no sense hanging around while Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. is president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, according to Go. Although upheld by the courts as the legitimate Patafa head, Go remains persona non grata at the POC led by President Aquino’s uncle.

Go promises not to get mad. He said he will get even by making himself readily available to the Ombudsman.

This is his story and he’s sticking to it—he has knowledge of purported anomalies in the national sports associations. Go also resurrects the case of NSA heads that still have to settle their cash advances. He said what’s worse is that some of these allegedly erring officials are known Cojuangco henchmen.

POC spokesperson Joey Romasanta, usually on the ball, was not available for comment.

Go wanted me to tag his 23 years as Patafa skipper with the popular song “Am I That Easy to Forget.” Its relevance escapes me but the tune has become his anthem of sorts.

“I became fond of it as a high school student in Hong Kong,” he says of the song, a 1960 hit by singer-actress Debbie Reynolds.

“Am I that easy to forget?” he asked while struggling to warble a line or two from the ditty.

Go would like the Patafa polls, scheduled for May 20, to produce someone with good hands to leave his NSA’s reins to.

But one of the supposed aspirants for Go’s job is pissed. Philip “Popoy” Ella Juico is miffed that his name is being dragged into the Patafa elections.

Juico dislikes the word against. He resents suggestions that he is pitted with lawyer Nicanor Sering—a son of Go’s predecessor Gov. Jose Sering—in the coming vote for Go’s replacement.

“I have never declared my candidacy,” Juico bristled on the phone. “For me to be in an election is not within my vision and my professional career.”

Although reportedly being groomed by unknown backers to take over, Juico seems to thumb his nose at the notion of succeeding Go.

“I have occupied much higher positions,” he crowed.

Juico was Agrarian Reform secretary under the first President Aquino, Corazon, P-Noy’s mother. He also served as chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, the agency that has failed to get recalcitrant NSAs to liquidate advances.

* * *

I can see environmental disaster in my birthplace, Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, after the elections. Away from the Comelec’s gaze, political materials are displayed all over the place—on tricycles and jeepneys, on private fences often without permission, and are even nailed on trees—an ecological wreck that is likely to be repeated in many parts of the country. The mayoral race is a tossup among Dra. Florida Esteban, businessman Jonathan Ramos and incumbent Mayor Jong Corpus.

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