Whither goest thou (Quo vadis), Philippine sports?
It is appropriate to allude to the Holy Bible in discussing the subject of Philippine sports today, because the situation is so dire, we could be holding the last rites over our sporting life or announcing its Lazarus-like resurgence
Depending on what happens today, the scheduled elections of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will either be held or postponed. We will either face a deadend, or a way forward for national sports.
This fork in the road will be resolved fortuitously if the Regional Trial Court of Pasig issued by presstime yesterday a temporary restraining order (TRO), as sought by disqualified candidates Rep. Abraham Tolentino and Ricky Vargas, for the elections to be postponed to another day.
Absent a TRO, the POC will proceed with the balloting today, and incumbent POC president Jose Cojuangco, Jr. will be elected to an unprecedented and incomprehensible fourth four-year term as POC president. Along with him, the gang of sports functionaries that has governed Philippine sports with him since 2004, will likewise continue at their posts.
Such a continuation of the status quo will be greeted with disappointment and alarm by the nation’s sporting community (athletes, sports leaders, sports enthusiasts) as a kind a death knell for our sports sector, from which it will take years to recover.
On the other hand, if the election are postponed through a court order or an unexpected display of responsibility by the POC leadership, there can be a fair and democratic contest for leadership between the old guard, which wants to remain in control, and the rising crop of new leaders who want to provide new leadership to Philippine sports.
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for a free and fair election to be held at the PIOC, and how much national interest is at stake on this issue.
We have seen enough of the rigging of the rules in POC affairs, and enough of failure and stagnation in national sports.
We are appalled that Mr. Cojuangco has maneuvered things so that his daughter, Mikee Cojuangco-Jawroski, serves as the IOC representative in the country, a post requiring impartiality so that Olympic rules will be observed.
With Mikee as IOC representative, the Cojuangco camp is threatening IOC suspension of Philippine membership if Cojuangco does not get his way.
This is absurd and tyrannical.
This is a situation that cries out for the intervention of President Duterte – to set things aright and uphold the national interest in national sports.
The IOC does not have supervening power over Philippine sports, greater than the authority and leadership that government wields. The IOC leadership under Olympic rules will never claim such power. Most countries, particularly China and Russia, would laugh at the IOC, if it asserts such authority over their sports.
Cojuangco and his gang are just using this as a bogey to prevent change at the POC.
To summarize, Philippine sports faces a stark choice today in the POC situation: a deadend under Cojuangco’s continued leadership, or regeneration under a new leadership.