THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) invoked its autonomy in refusing the entry of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) brass during the POC General Assembly on Monday at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
But the POC continued to draw adversaries, the latest being sportsman Rep. Mikee Romero (1Pacman Party-list), who reiterated his call to overhaul the Olympic body’s leadership “so the country’s dream of winning the ultimate prize—an Olympic gold—will be finally realized.”
Chess federation head Surigao del Norte Rep. Prospero Pichay defended the fort for the POC, as PSC Commissioners Ramon Fernandez, Charles Maxey, Arnold Agustin and Celia Kiram sought entry to the assembly, saying they wanted to sit as observers in the sensitive POC exercise.
“We [were only trying] to protect the integrity and autonomy of the POC based on our own constitution,” Pichay said.
Fernandez said they were sent by PSC Chairman William Ramirez to observe the assembly. Ramirez warned during the weekend that they will cut government support to national sports associations if the POC fails to resolve its leadership dispute.
The four commissioners walked away peacefully.
“We can’t do anything. But we will tackle this in our board meeting on Thursday,” said Fernandez, a staunch critic of POC President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr.
The POC, according to Pichay after Monday’s assembly, will hold elections on February 23 as ordered by the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City.
But Pichay stressed a commission on elections would have to determine the eligibility of aspirants for POC chairman and president as prescribed in the body’s bylaws.
Boxing’s Ricky Vargas and cycling’s Abraham Tolentino cried foul, saying they would again be disqualified—for absences in the POC general assembly—because the election body is composed primarily of the same people who disqualified them in the November 2016 elections.
Romero, a former president of the shooting association who owns GlobalPort in the Philippine Basketball Association, said changes in the POC are necessary.
“With the sad state of Philippine sports, change in the POC leadership is long overdue,” said Romero, vice chairman of the Youth and Sports Committee in Congress.
Romero said he hopes that all national sports association (NSA) heads, especially those aligned with Cojuangco, will be enlightened that this is the right time for a fresh start.
“We need new direction, new energy and renewed focus. The longest-serving POC president has put the country’s sports program to its lowest ever records. It is time for a fresh start,” he said.