I will state my point plainly and directly.
Like the national elections on May 9, the elections of the Philippine Olympic Committee on Nov. 25, will be a watershed or turning point for Philippine sports.
If a new forward-looking leadership is elected for the POC, national sports will have a not-to-be-missed opportunity to chart a new beginning and a new course toward the future.
Failing at the balloting and dominated anew by the entrenched mafia within the POC, national sports will remain a desert, parched for ideas to renew itself, unwatered by the talents and energies of talented athletes and dynamic leaders.
Philippine sports is what it is because it is literally starved of vision. The present POC epitomizes the debasement of sports governance.
Pool capital of the world
It will surprise some readers why I have a keen and knowledgeable interest in sports. I would have you know that I have been a sports enthusiast for most of my life. There was a time when I competed actively in amateur sports competition.
I headed at one time one of the country’s national sports associations (the NSA for billiards) – and I pioneered in bringing to this country the world pool championship, at which my colleagues, partners and I succeeded so well that Manila came to be known as “the pool capital of the world.”
From time to time, I am asked by Filipino and international sports enthusiasts why I stopped organizing the world pool championship here in Manila, or why I have not ventured to revive the once thriving project.
I have desisted from disclosing the reason or reasons why, partly because of indignation over the rank injustice and bullying suffered by our NSA from Peping Cojuangco and the POC, who wanted to punish us for not supporting his candidacy for the POC presidency. They manipulated things to have our duly elected and registered sports association, the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP), delisted from the POC, and maneuvered to have our group replaced by a bogus entity with similar initials. The thorn here is that the BSCP is officially recognized by the world pool Association (WPA), the world governing body for billiards, whereas their bogus group has no credentials whatsoever.
Billiards’ enviable record
I joined the BSCP by invitation in 2005 to help in the Philippines’ hosting of the Southeest Asian Games (SEAG) in Manila that year; and I was stunned at being elected board chairman during its elections that year.
BSCP has an enviable record as an NSA. Since its inception in 1987, Filipino players always took the gold medal or medals in the competition.
During my stint as chairman, billiards took a record haul of 11 gold medals in billiards in 2005, and it bagged gold medals in every Asiad we participated in.
In addition, a Filipino, Ronnie Alcano, won the world championship in the first world pool championship tournament staged in Manila.
Victory in court
This distinguished record was cut short by Cojuangco’s scheming to deprive BSCP of official status.
We challenged the illegal move in court, a case that moved glacially in the court system for years.
This year, thanks to our fighting the issue in court and the able representation of our lawyers, we won a legal victory. The parties whom we sued decided not to contest the case; they signed a waiver of desistance, paving the way for the closure of the case.
Consequently, it is in the light of this legal verdict that we will move to reclaim our place as the NSA for billiards within the POC and the PSC.
We believe the most fitting venue for our return is the Nov. 25 POC elections, whether we are allowed to vote or not.
Three developments to face
We believe it is time for the nation to know the real story of our sport, because of certain developments that need to be faced and addressed.
These developments are:
1.The decision of POC President Jose Peping Cojuangco Jr. to seek a fourth term, and the prospect of the same gang continuing to run Philippine sports;
2. The accession of a new chairman, William Ramirez, at the Philippine sports Commission (PSC), and the real chance for sports renewal under president Rodrigo Duterte; and
3. The message conveyed to me by the World Pool Association (WPA), that it is interested in supporting the return of the world pool championship to Manila next year, if we are minded to reclaim the honor. There is interest in this from the private sector.
The coming POC election has renewed my group’s interest in national sports, because what happened to billiards and our national sports association, encapsulates the debasement of sports governance in our country.
Billiards is vital to the revival and strengthening of national sports, because it is a sport wherein Filipinos, men and women alike, excel, and, as has been shown, can dominate the world.
We will strive to join our voice with other NSAs and other sports leaders.
What happened in billiards happened also in other sports and to other associations.
When I read of the POC mafia maneuvering to have Ricky Vargas disqualified from contesting the POC presidency, I see the same dirty tactics being employed by the same dirty hands in our Olympic committee.
Why the mafia won’t let go
Many people wonder why at 82 Cojuangco still insists on seeking another term. Does the man seriously believe that he is indispensable to Philippine sports?
When, many ask, was he ever needed by our sports communities and our athletes?
To many, he looks more like a noose around the neck of Philippine sports.
The scuttlebutt is that the reason Cojuangco and the mafia cannot let go of the reins, is because of the huge funding that the Internatinal Olympic committee ( IOC) funnels to the POC annually. The money has become a pension for their old age.
There is no way for our sports to move forward, unless real change takes place on November 25.