HOW do you solve a problem like the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC)?
If PBA legend Ramon Fernandez would have his way, the aggrieved national sports associations such as the Amateur Boxing Alliance of the Philippines and PhilCycling Association could go all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Geneva, Switzerland.
“There are many possibilities now. The Philippine Sports Commission is anxiously waiting for what the camp of ABAP president Ricky Vargas is going to do next,” said Fernandez, one of the five newly-appointed PSC officials under President Duterte.
“They can file a protest to the POC General Assembly before the Nov. 2 deadline and question the decision of the POC elections committee, bring the issue to our courts of law or even take the case to CAS in Geneva,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez, widely considered as one of the greatest Filipino basketball players, expressed hope that the Vargas camp will not waver in its fight to reverse the POC decision and challenge long-time POC head Jose “Peping” Cojuangco during the Nov. 25 elections.
The Cebu-based PSC official noted a groundswell of support for the election of new sports leaders and replace the 82-year-old Cojuangco, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth straight term as POC president.
He said #ChangeTheGame is becoming popular among officials and athletes clamoring for change in the POC.
Fernandez, however, admitted the POC could face suspension from the IOC if the issue is not resolved soon.
|There’s always a possibility that the POC will be suspended by the International Olympic Committee. But we, as a country, can still send our athletes to international competitions, like what happened to Kuwait, " explained Fernandez in his Facebook account.
Fernandez also revealed that the PSC has obtained documents from the official IOC website that listed the funds released by IOC to the member NOCs, including the POC.
Based on the data, the IOC gave $16,000 to NOCs as logistical costs for sending athletes to the Rio Olympics, $10,000 each for the NOC president and secretary general for transportation, and $2,500 for each athlete who took part in the games.
“These are real figures from the IOC. But the old PSC also gave POC funding, which until now Cojuangco's group failed to liquidate. That is why we are also interested on what will happen to their election because somehow we can start the change from there,” Fernandez said.
“All other countries, except for the United States, their Olympic Committee is run by the government. That means they are accountable to the people. Our present situation is patterned with the USA where the Olympic Committee is ran by private groups. But for the meantime, if POC won’t get their acts together, PSC will give the funding directly to the athletes.”
Earlier, Cojuangco downplayed the clamor for change in the PIC leadership, saying he still has the support of majority of the NSAs.
“The one’s questioning the rules of the election and causing trouble is just a minority,” said Cojuangco, who was first installed as POC president by acclamation in 2004 and retained the post in 2008 and 2012.
“The maximum number I can get is17 votes. The other side will get just seven,” said Cojuangco.
But Fernandez and other top sports leaders, including former Sen. Nikki Coseteng, football head Nonong Araneta and ally-turned-critic Go Teng Kok, twitted Cojuangco and elections chairman Frank Elizalde for disqualifying Vargas and cycling chief Rep Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino from running due to technicality.
They urged Cojuangco to just allow Vargas to run if the former Tarlac politician “still believes he still has the support of the NSAs.”
Even PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez expressed disappointment with Vargas' disqualification and wished the POC would allow the trusted official of the MVP Group of Companies to run.against Cojuangco.
The POC officials are elected every four years or during Olympic year Although private in nature, the POC receives funding ftom the PSC, the government supervising body in sports.