MANILA, Philippines - The clamor for telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan to vie for the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee is reportedly gaining ground among a number of national sports associations (NSAs).
A press release that came out yesterday said “many of those (sports leaders) on the fence have indicated they will support MVP should he declare himself available.”
“MVP is slowly feeling the pressure to take on the responsibility of going for the presidency. He is already currently into several sports disciplines as benefactor so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to imagine him taking on a bigger challenge. But no decisions have been made yet,” said the statement from an unnamed source.
Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, the incumbent POC chief, is seeking a third term, and the other day welcomed any challenge from anyone who’s interested.
“I don’t know exactly,” said the former congressman from Tarlac when asked if there’s any serious contender or contenders for the top POC post.
A month ago, Cojuangco brought up the idea of teaming up with Pangilinan, who heads the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and supports a handful other sports.
Many speculated that Cojuangco offered Pangilinan the chairmanship so he could keep the presidency. But nothing really came out of the reported proposal.
Pangilinan, who has the stature and the resources to help chart the course of Philippine sports, said he’s not interested in the presidency and would rather “stay neutral.”
A very reliable source said Pangilinan and his group, which includes Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines president Ricky Vargas, is not inclined to challenge Cojuangco for some reason.
“It’s the business angle. Mr. Pangilinan has many businesses in the country and he would rather stay neutral than challenge the uncle of President Aquino,” said the source.
“The MVP group may be thinking or fearing of a backlash if he goes out and challenges Mr. Cojuangco head-on,” he added.
Cojuangco is 78 years old, and it should be his last term as POC chief if he wins in November. Pangilinan is much younger and if he can only wait, he can have a trouble-free ride to the POC presidency in 2016.
Previously, it was Vargas who was being considered and pushed as challenger against Cojuangco, as well as former ABAP president and current POC first vice president Manny Lopez.
Where Pangilinan goes, Vargas goes. If MVP stays out of the picture and decides to stay neutral, Vargas is expected to do the same, leaving Lopez out on his own.
Lopez, current sec-gen of the Philippine Handball Federation, is no longer an NSA president, and this bars him from seeking the top POC post. The only way he can is if he regains the presidency at ABAP.
If Pangilinan decides to go for it, he might as well go all the way. He can run as POC chairman and have Vargas shoot for the presidency. This way, they can have full control of the POC.
Cojuangco also welcomed the challenge put up by athletics chief Go Teng Kok the other day. The latter said he would challenge Cojuangco in the Nov. 30 polls but would give way if someone else decides to run.
“In fact I want Teng Kok to run so we will know how many votes he has. We can even hold an open balloting if he wants to,” said Cojuangco during Wednesday’s POC general assembly.
Go simply laughed it off yesterday, saying his decision to run against Cojuangco should serve as a wake-up call for the other NSA leaders who are “scared” of the POC chief.
Cojuangco said there’s more to talk about than the coming POC elections.
“This is not the election like for public office. This is more like a club election. It’s not anything that will affect the lives of the people,” he said.