Justice and Freedom for Philippine Sports

A Joint Statement from Representatives of

Different Sports Associations in the Philippines

In 2008, Peping Cojuangco was re-elected to a second term as Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President. He won the election by the skin of his teeth, nipping his rival Art Macapagal by only 2 votes, 21 – 19.

In 2011, Cojuangco removed the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) as the National Sports Association (NSA) for dragon boating. Control of dragon boating was transferred from the PDBF to the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF). (Please read: Restoring Dragon Boat.)

In 2015, Cojuangco dropped the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) and formed a new organization as the NSA for Philippine volleyball, the Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas Inc (LVPI). (Please read: The Rape of Philippine Volleyball.)

In 2016, Cojuangco stripped the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (TATAP) of its NSA status and formed the Philippine Table Tennis Federation (PTTF). (Please read: How Peping Annexed Philippine Table Tennis.)

Also in 2016, Cojuangco ousted the Philippine Bowling Congress (PBC) as the bowling NSA and created a Philippine Bowling Federation (PBF). (Please read: Philippine Bowling Cries for  Justice.)

In all, there were four NSAs unjustly disenfranchised by Cojuangco from 2011 to 2016. All four disenfranchised NSAs have certain things in common. One, all these NSAs did not support Cojuangco during the 2009 POC Presidential Election. Two, all the personalities who formed the new NSAs were handpicked by Cojuangco and not independently elected, thereby putting in place pro-Cojuangco puppets. Three, the removal of the NSAs concerned did not go through the POC’s General Assembly (GA). The POC by-laws require that a 3/4 vote is needed in the GA in order to expel a sitting NSA. The removal of the 4 NSAs without the GA vote is therefore in gross violation of the POC By-laws under ‘Grounds for Expulsion’. Four, all four disenfranchised NSAs had the support of their respective International Federations (IFs) which the POC refused to honor. Five, all four replacement NSAs have performed miserably in the recent Asian Games, clearly demonstrating how dirty sports politics and the old ‘bata-bata’ system can ruin a sport, and Philippine sports in general.

In the case of dragon boating, Cojuangco claimed that there was an IOC directive to put the sport under the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation. This blatant lie was uncovered when the IOC denied the existence of such a directive, citing that ‘it does not involve itself in sports outside of the Olympic Program.’ In fact, no other country in the world received such a directive. Despite this, the POC still continues to recognize the anomalous decision placing dragon boating under the PCKF.

Free3InquirerSports
Despite their sterling accomplishments, the PDBF was taken down, replaced by a PCKF which has provided nothing but lies, excuses, corruption charges and sorry performances. (photo by Inquirer Sports)

In the case of volleyball, Cojuangco pounced on a leadership struggle in the PVF to insert a new entity that would be manned by his own appointees. Instead of allowing the volleyball community to resolve their problem internally, Cojuangco hastily took control of the sport by tapping 4 POC officials to lead the LVPI, in an arrogant display of abuse of authority and conflict of interest.

Free5PhilStar
Dividing the volleyball community set back the sport’s development for years. Once worthy contenders in the SEA Games, we have been left far behind. (Photo by PhilStar)

In table tennis, TATAP maintains that it did not commit any major infraction that would merit its expulsion from the POC. It was replaced by Cojuangco with the PTTF loaded with personalities favorable to him without any due process.

Free4Inquirernet
We lost a great athlete in the late Ian Lariba. (Photo by Inquirer.net)

As for bowling, the PBC was also removed and replaced by a Cojuangco-backed PBF unceremoniously and without due process. To make the immoral act look legitimate, Cojuangco lured known bowling icons to head the group.

Free6GoodNewsPilipinas
We lost momentum with the in-fighting and the devious removal of the bowling leadership. (Photo by Good News Pilipinas.)

Clearly, the systematic scheme targetting NSAs non-sympathetic to Cojuangco has contributed a lot to the decay in Philippine sports. At present, more energy is used to ensure that the status quo is maintained, as opposed to focusing on the training and development of our athletes. (Please read: The Fight to Liberate Philippine Sports Continues.) Looking at the performance of our athletes in the recent SEA Games, we can see the steady decline of Philippine sports. Likewise, a look at the performance of our athletes in the 4 sports mentioned in the recent Asian Games reveals no positive results. Not a single medal despite lofty expectations. The negative energy derived from the divided houses within our sports communities has produced nothing but dismal performances that have deprived us of our pride and dignity as a sporting people.

We now have a new POC leadership headed by President Ricky Vargas. We thought that the needed reforms would finally be put in place. We thought that with his new direction, the problems of the divided communities will finally be resolved. After all, we worked hard to raise the people’s awareness on the sad plight of Philippine sports, and how President Vargas could be our knight in shining armor.

Unfortunately, it has been more than a year now, and the POC has not done anything about it. The Membership Committee under Mr Robert Bachmann has not been able to resolve a single issue yet. Unfortunately too, the POC is still mired in a seeming cold war with no major issues being resolved. There is still a strong in-fighting within the POC coming from the Vargas and Peping camps. Vargas has the majority of the NSAs but is faced with a non-cooperative POC Board. This Board refused to resign when the Presidential election proclaiming Cojuangco as President was voided. For delicadeza, these people should have resigned to pave the way for the election of a completely new slate.

Free1Inquirersports
Peping with Romasanta and his coup pals in the POC Board. (Inquirer Sports)

That said, we are raising this issue for the public to know. With the SEA Games coming very soon, it is imperative that the public be made aware of the problems besetting Philippine sports. We need to do a massive clean-up within the POC – and by extension, their long-developed mafia connections within the PSC – to remove the vestiges of old decadent systems that hamper sports development. We need for President Vargas to have a strong, supportive team that can institute the needed reforms in the POC. Constitutional amendments need to be pushed to remove the protectionist stance of the old boys’ club. We need the POC to resolve major issues in membership, etc. We need new leaders to infuse new innovative ideas in running the show. The ways of the old mafia have not worked. It is time for new leaders, new policies, new ideas to come and make things work. And if President Vargas does nothing about this, we will hold him accountable as well, for ultimately he is responsible for what his POC does or fails to do.

But what exactly must be done now?

One, there should be an immediate reinstatement of all illegally disenfranchised NSAs, and the suspension of the bogus NSAs. Remove Robert Bachmann from the Membership Committee. He has been doing the POC a great disservice by sitting on the cases for more than a year. Resolve the division in the different sports. There has to be a sincere effort to find a middle ground acceptable to all concerned. PSC funding for the national teams of the sports concerned should be suspended, unless a joint coaching staff is created under the supervision of both the POC/PSC.

Two, there should be a review of all non-performing NSAs. There should be a policy that in sports where no positive developments are demonstrated in 2-3 years, leaders will have to step down so that a new direction can be taken.

Three, there is a need for constitutional reforms soonest. Remove Peping Cojuangco from the Constitutional Reforms Committee to hasten the introduction of new systems. His protectionist stand will stymie the process of genuine constitutional reform.

Four, get all the members of the POC Board to submit their courtesy resignations. Their election came hand-in-hand with the discredited POC Presidential election which the court voided. Have the GA rule on this and conduct a new election for a board that will work together with the President, and not to undermine him. This will provide the POC a new face, and a truly fresh mandate.

Five, ask the IOC to have Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski replaced as IOC member. Mikee is undoubtedly a qualified and well-respected sports personality. But the fact that she is clearly attached to a controversial figure in Philippine sports will render her views on matters concerning Philippine sports biased. To remove any strain in the IOC – POC line, IOC will have to pick a new Philippine entity.

Finally, get a timeline for all the items mentioned. With the SEA Games upon us, certain tasks will need to be prioritized. POC will have to make its move now. There can never be unity and reconciliation without justice. We ask POC now, stand and be an administrator of good governance in sports.

Philippine sports has suffered enough. It is time to erase the years of misery and humiliation. It is time to correct the malpractices and corruption, and ease out the decadence and favoritism of the old society. Our children need new heroes, new inspiration, and new ways of doing things. Our children need good examples of professional conduct, discipline and strong moral character. Our President Duterte sent a strong message: “DO NOT DESTROY THE YOUTH OF MY COUNTRY!” We have our golden opportunity here now. Let us not waste that chance. For the sake of our children, let us all work together as one.

If you sympathize with us in this issue, please feel free to share this among your friends. We need everyone’s support.

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