MANILA, Philippines - In a major development, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco has reached out to business tycoon and sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan for a possible team-up in the POC elections in November.
Cojuangco is seeking a third term as POC chief and while no challenger has come out in the open, the former congressman from Tarlac is thinking of putting up a very formidable ticket.
Jose Romasanta, president of the Philippine Karatedo Federation and POC spokesman, yesterday told The STAR that they are offering Pangilinan a very active role in the POC.
"Since he is already into sports, we think it's time for Mr. Pangilinan to take a more active leadership role in the POC," said Romasanta, who will seek the post of first vice president in the POC elections.
Pangilinan has built an empire in PLDT/Smart, Meralco and Maynilad, among others.
And over the last six years, the man they call MVP has ventured into sports, throwing in millions to support basketball, boxing, taekwondo, badminton, tennis, football, golf, cycling and running.
Pangilinan is president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and serves as chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) and the Philippine Badminton Association (PBA).
"Now there's a clamor for him to take a more active role in Philippine sports. And the only available position for him in the POC is either as president or as chairman," said Romasanta.
"Mr. Pangilinan has not committed to anything but I hope he heeds the clamor. With his expertise he can influence the entire POC towards greater success," added the POC spokesman.
Cojuangco is working on a ticket for the Nov. 30 elections, and if they can agree to it, the uncle of President Aquino can seek a third term as president while Pangilinan runs as chairman.
"That will be a great team-up. We need a fresh face in the POC and we are determined to impress upon the country that we want to do something dramatic for Philippine sports," Romasanta said.
There are also talks that Ramon S. Ang of San Miguel Corpo., Petron and Philippine Airlines is thinking of dipping his hands on sports, and that there’s already one sport he’s interested in.
"Can you imagine Cong. (Cojuangco), Manny Pangilinan and Ramon Ang being the face of the POC? This will surely benefit Philippine sports. That would be a blessing for Philippine sports," Romasanta added.
"The POC president is open to any workable arrangement with these gentlemen," he said.
Reports said Manny Lopez, current POC first vice president, may challenge Cojuangco for the POC presidency. But the former chief of amateur boxing in the country has yet to make an announcement.
Ricky Vargas, now the ABAP president, is also being considered as a possible candidate for the top POC post. However, some quarters are looking at him as replacement for Frank Elizalde who will soon step down as International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines.
Vargas, president of Maynilad who has the strongest ties with Pangilinan, has the pedigree to be with the IOC. He is the grandson of the late Jorge Vargas, IOC representative to the Philippines for 35 years until 1980.
Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, daughter of the POC chief, is also being mentioned as possible replacement for Elizalde, as well as Celso Dayrit of fencing, the former POC president.