In 2005, Peping Cojuangco was first elected President of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). Philippine Sports was at its peak then, with the country lording it over its ASEAN neighbors in the SEA Games conducted that year. Everything seemed rosy and bright for our athletes, as we basked in the glory and the pride of being acclaimed the best of the best in the Southeast Asian world. Looking forward, expectations were high that our athletes would haul more achievements and greater glory up ahead.
Alas, records will show that since 2005, the country’s performance in international sports has dipped miserably. We have become the butt of jokes among our neighboring countries. From being on top in the 2005 SEA Games, we have plummeted to 7th in 2013, and have settled for 6th in the latest edition last 2017. We have sunk lower than any of the original Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore), we have been overtaken by relative newcomer Vietnam, and we have at one point been outclassed by Myanmar! If this isn’t something we should be embarrassed about, I don’t know what is.
In the Asian Games, prior to the Cojuangco reign, we were a competitive 18th in medal tallies. By 2014, the last Games Peping headed, we had gone down to 22nd. In last year’s 2018 Asiad, under the new leadership of Ricky Vargas, we have finally started to recover, placing a refreshing 19th overall.
We have the second largest population in Southeast Asia. We have the 5th largest GDP. We have the largest English-speaking population in the region. Plus we have a vast experience in new technologies and gadgets. We are certainly far more advanced than most of our Southeast Asian neighbors. What gives?
In the 2010 national elections, Peping’s nephew, Benigno Aquino III, became President of the Philippines. Thereafter, Peping wielded much greater power, causing the appointment of his puppet, Richie Garcia, as Chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). Richie’s appointment practically made Peping the super-power in Philippine Sports. Now, he also had control over government’s sports purse strings in his fingertips.
Despite all these however, Philippine Sports continued to stagger like a punch-drunk boxer. Why then were we underachieving? What was it that has brought our performance down?
Peping would regale his athletes with stories of how foreign officials would praise him for having accomplished much despite having very little support from the Philippine government. That he could move around complaining about lack of support is a surprise. That he could claim lack of support when his nephew himself occupied the highest position in the land is a complete travesty.
Peping and his mafia ruled Philippine Sports for more than a decade. And there’s really nothing much to show but divided sporting communities; which in turn grinded out dismal performances; and provided nothing but excuses, half-truths and lies. Of course, they had the lavish trips abroad, the indiscriminate use of POC funds, etc. Which is really why they want to stage a coup.
What makes them deserving when there’s nothing in their credentials to merit another try? What new ideas are they armed with this time to excite us? Shall we allow these coup pals to get back in power?
You be the judge.
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