A Sad Day for Philippine Sports

As expected, Peping Cojuangco got re-elected to a 4th term as President of the Philippine Olympic Committee  (POC). Running unopposed, the 82- year old sports strongman took 26 out of 37 possible votes in the election held last Friday, November 25, at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club. As President since 2005, Peping now has the distinction of having the longest reign at the POC helm.

Once again, the old boys club (aka the Philippine sports mafia) has wrested control of the leadership of Philippine sports. At a time when most of the world is out looking for change, the country’s sporting leaders surprisingly are looking for continuity. This, despite having led our athletes to embarrassing debacles in the country’s worst finishes ever in the last 5 South East Asian (SEA) Games. Donald Trump won the US elections because the American public didn’t want another 4 years of the status quo. Rodrigo Duterte won the Philippine elections because the Filipino people were fed up with the status quo. In our sporting world however, despite their glaring failures and pathetic performances, Peping’s sports mafia ironically still continues to wield power.

Is there really no one else capable of leading us back to sports respectability? Are we not tired of all the embarrassment and ridicule that our Asean neighbors say behind our backs? Can you honestly be satisfied with our lamentable 6th or 7th place finish in the SEA Games? Pwede na yan. Ok lang yan. Is that acceptable at all? It seems that we have become callous masochists, eager to inflict the same pain on ourselves over and over again.

I wonder what it is that Peping and his cohorts offered that they have not thought of during the last 12 years of their reign of shame. But then, they didn’t have to offer anything. All they needed to do was to conveniently disqualify boxing’s Ricky Vargas and cycling’s Abraham Tolentino. Voila! No more opposition. No need for new platforms or new ideas. No need to talk about aspirations and dreams, never mind the issues and concerns. No one dares to tangle with him still. For he has instilled in most everyone a fear of being left out. Not a whimper, for they still believe this man can make life difficult for them. Remember what he did to the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) and the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF)? Just tow the goddamn line, man, and just shut your trap! To them, that’s the only way to survive in Philippine sports.

peping9
By killing democracy in Philippine sports, Peping is proving to be just like Marcos, with Vargas now looking like Ninoy. Striking facial similarities too, don’t you think?

Hay naku, Pilipinas, GISING!!!

The lack of opposition in the election clearly demonstrates the protectionist stance these NPAs (non-performing assets) have taken. They want to be entrenched in their thrones forever, and they really don’t care if it’s to the detriment of our country and people. This old boys club will continue to hold our sports world hostage with their goofy ideas and their senior moments. This mafia will hold on to their thin strands of power, thinking they alone know what’s best for their respective sports. They have to be exposed for what they truly are. Otherwise Philippine sports will continue to suffer from the sorry environment they have nurtured.

Immediately after the sham elections, Peping talked of unity and the need to be helpful to the community. How can he even talk about unity when it is in fact he himself who has been the source of disunity and grave discomfort among our athletes? Take it from the late great sportscaster Ronnie Nathanielz: Peping should realize that he is in fact the disaster in Philippine sports. For even among the would-be giant corporate sponsors, there is a growing hesitance to provide support when they know that there is nothing new – no new direction, no new initiatives, no new vigor in the leadership – that the sporting community has to offer.

If Peping truly wants unity and harmony, then he has to shun away the partisan politics and distance himself from the old boys’ club. By doing so, he will at least be able to turn his nightmare legacy in sports into something a bit more acceptable. For the truth is, while the International Olympic Committee specifically mandates National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to be detached from government because of the perception of dirty politics involved, it is precisely within the POC itself where the stench of partisan politics has become most unbearable.

The downward trend is very clear. It's time to try a new line, a new direction.
The downward trend has to be stopped. We cannot expect to have different results if we continue with the same antiquated solutions.

Here are some of the things Peping should be willing to do:

  1. Make peace with Nikki Coseteng and the disfavored group under the Philippine Swimming League. Let their swimmers compete for slots in the national team. They have outstanding swimmers that deserve a chance at the national slots.
  2. Reinstate the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) as the legitimate NSA for dragon boating. Even after 6 years of handling dragon-boating in the country, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF) paddlers cannot hold a candle against the grizzled veterans of the PDBF. Let PCKF focus on canoe-kayaking, they have enough on their plate already.
  3. Remove Joey Romasanta as Volleyball head, and let the volleyball community choose a leader from among their ranks. Joey is undoubtedly an amiable and a respected sportsman, and he has good intentions, but the fact that he was rammed down the throats of the volleyball association leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
  4. Resolve the factionalism in the bowling community. No favoritism, stop the bata-bata; just hear them out.
  5. So with women’s basketball and the other sports which have complained of having ‘favored’ sons and daughters. Stop the favoritism.
  6. Allow the perceived disfavored sports associations such as boxing, cycling, football, etc more leeway in sending their athletes to foreign competitions and training. They should know better.
  7. Stop cuddling sports associations that have not been performing up to par. National Sports Associations (NSAs) that have not been delivering – and this can be easily seen in the SEA Games results – should be held accountable for their unsatisfactory results. Their leaders should be replaced, whether they are part of the mafia or not. Let’s look for young creative minds who can move the Associations forward.
  8. Be transparent with all sports funds provided, whether it is from the government or from the private sector.

There are many other things he can do to demonstrate sincerity in his call for unity. Peping has a chance to clean his slate right now. He can be magnanimous in victory and show greatness by taking this radical step. Question is: will he do it, or will he not?

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12 comments

    1. Very true. I just wonder what it is that makes one – at 82 – still want to take on a job like this with all its tasks and responsibilities. He is so rich that he doesn’t need this added headache.

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  1. Give the newly elected president your support and a chance to serve. I hate people who finds fault on everyone while in the sidelines. Enter the ring, get your nose bloodied…drive your point. Once you failed, wait and run on the next elections.

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    1. Thanks for the candid response. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you. First, you say give him a chance to serve? Isn’t 12 long painful disastrous years enough time for you guys to show your worth? Second, you say enter the ring, get your nose bloodied. Ricky Vargas tried. But you guys just had to take him out on a technicality. And yes, I have entered the ring. I don’t have to run for election to have the right to voice my views about Philippine sports. As to driving my point, that’s precisely what I’m doing. I believe Peping is doing the country a great disservice by insisting on staying put as POC head. Perhaps you can enlighten me on why you think Peping deserves the post – other than the fact that he railroaded the election.

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    2. He is not worthy of his throne anymore. Many have suffered from his system, instead of supporting athlètes with talents, na alam mong malaki ang chance magka gold ang team, inaalis nya sa lineup or dinidis approve ang request to compete abroad pag alam nyang against sa kanya ang NSA. And for sure lahat ng bomoto sa kanya sa pagiging president ulet e hawak nya sa leeg. Sya ang pumapatay ng Philippine Sports. Lahat ng pinasok na bagong sport events na approve na approve sa kanya e puro bokya nmn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the comment and the show of concern, Lala. It is good that we have people like you on the ground voicing out how you feel.

        Dear Sporting Chance,
        Here’s a response from one of our athletes on the ground. Open your eyes, open your ears. “SYA ANG PUMAPATAY SA PHILIPPINE SPORTS.” Hindi ba ang sakit pakinggan nun? Grabe na ang hina-ing ng mga atleta natin. Gumising ka na, Mr Borromeo, be a true patriot and do what’s best for the country.

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    3. Hi di na nya kelangan ng chance, his 12 yrs in service proves that he is not worthy of his throne. Ang dami nag sakripisyong atleta na may talent and sure win sa mga laban, na inalis/tinanggal nya dahil sa halatang rason na gusto nya lahat ng NSA o atleta ay hawak nya sa leeg. And for sure lahat ng bumoto sa kanya sa pgkamit ng trono ulet ay hawak nya o bata nya… Imagine dami pinasok na bagong sport, todo suporta pa, e bokya nmn, di mn lang ng focus sa mga winning teams, porket di xa ang bet nung naging NSA.. Sa 12yrs nya sa pg serbisyo, gasgas na ang linya nyang “kayo mga atleta ang boss” utot.. Inalisan nyo ng mga pangarap ang atletang ngsakripisyo sa bayan.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was in the National Dragon Boat team, back when it was still under PDBF. The national team, the men and women, were consistent medalists wherever they competed. The men’s team under the PDBF were back-to-back WORLD RECORD HOLDERS of the 200m sprint distance. The women, along with the men, held their 2nd World record in the Premiere Mixed. WORLD CHAMPIONS…respected all over the world; they were the BEST in the 200m sprint, they were ‘Usain Bolt’ in the dragon boat sprint category; they were ‘Brazil’ in the World FIFA cup! That was who they were and our (yes, yours and mine) country was respected by athletes from all over the world!

    So what did POC, Peping Cojuanco and all those people around him (special mention, Jeff Tamayo) do? They twisted facts to their liking to discredit PDBF e.g saying that the federation has no legit ‘International Federation’ membership etc etc…whatttt?! PDBF has been under the INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT FEDERATION since its conception! In fact, we are one of the founding members of the IDBF! They didn’t even research that! What was soooo heartwrenching was they had let politics interfere with sports. If they were not in good terms with the PDBF leaders, why let the athletes suffer along with their fight? They didn’t let us compete in the 2010 Asian Games where we could have brought them at least 3 or more Gold medals! They made us go through a time trial which we passed with flying colors…could have been our next World Record and we could have made history in the Asian Games! But no…they were selfish and evil! To them, everything is politics, including sports.

    Who are you ‘SPORTING CHANCE’ to say, give Peping a ‘chance’?! Have you been living in another planet?! It’s been 12 friggin’ years! Now, dragon boat is under PCKF, an NSA that had nothing to show before they took PDBF athletes under their wing. And now that those athletes they took in have all left, they are left with another BIG ‘0’. Check out their medal standing in the 2015 28th SEA Games, Singapore! It is the Philippines’ WORST ever result since dragon boat’s introduction in SEA Games! Yet, Peping continues to support them. Now tell me WHY SHOULD WE GIVE HIM ANOTHER 4 YEARS?!! Please enlighten me with your great wisdom!

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    1. Thanks, Pinoy Dragon Warrior. I remember in 2013, the Navy – who were then the pride of the PCKF – competed for the first time against PDBF teams. This was in Bohol. The powerhouse Navy team had been undefeated in 3 years in PCKF-sanctioned tournaments, and had just come back from a triumphant 6-gold, 1-silver medal harvest in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championship in Milan, Italy. Everybody thought that they would make hay in Bohol. But the PCKF was wary, even warning the Navy not to join the Bohol competition.

      In the 9 races at stake, the then-PCKF standard bearers did not win a single race! They were even humbled by a Coastguard team that used to simply be an integral part of the Navy! And they were World champions under International Canoe Federation (ICF) standards? But if you look closer, you will find out that the Milan world championship was only attended by 12 countries, as ICF doesn’t really focus on dragon boating. Canoeing sila, Canuto Borromeo! Yet, Peping insists that the PCKF is the legit dragon boating association of the country.

      After the Navy got blasted off the waters by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) teams, Navy decided to go back to the folds of the PDBF. Wala naman talagang real competition sa PCKF, more often than not they are just for fun, leisure competitions. Just look at the time records of PCKF competitions and compare them with those of the PDBF.

      Why can’t the PCKF focus on canoeing and kayaking, which is what they were meant for anyway? Di na nga nila kayang ayusin ang canoeing, nag-aattempt pang laruin ang dragon boat. It has been 6 years, still they can’t compete against the best Pinoy paddlers. My challenge: can’t we have the best PCKF teams pit talents against the PDBF teams? That way, we can see if indeed they deserve to represent the country.

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