MANILA, Philippines - Businessman and sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan wants to see those “warm bodies” first before he formally announces his bid for the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Pangilinan, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, is supporting a handful other sports, among them boxing, badminton, taekwondo, tennis, football, golf and cycling.
But these numbers are not enough to win the POC presidency. There are 43 votes to be cast on Nov. 30, and MVP would need at least 22 to secure the victory.
Unlike Pangilinan, Jose Cojuangco Jr. has openly declared his bid for a third term as POC president. In the 2008 elections, he defeated Art Macapagal in a close contest, 21-19.
Cojuangco said he continues to enjoy the support of his friends in the POC even if those pushing MVP to run against the uncle of President Aquino are saying otherwise.
An insider said MVP wants his men to show him the winning numbers. Otherwise, the big boss of PLDT/Smart, Meralco and Maynilad, among other corporations, wouldn’t run.
Pangilinan may prefer being installed than challenge Cojuangco head-on and go through the rigors of the election. Cojuangco became POC president in 2004 by acclamation.
“Knowing MVP he would be open to lead Philippine sports if asked. He is in the best position to do so and bring Philippines sports to a new level of performance,” said his biggest ally, Ricky Vargas.
Then the head of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines and president of Maynilad passed the ball to the heads of the different NSAs (national sports associations).
“Time for the NSAs to speak up if they want change otherwise let the status quo remain,” said Vargas in a text message that was circulated to members of the sports media the other night.
Jose Romasanta, president of the Philippine Karatedo Federation and POC spokesperson, yesterday clarified before Vargas what he meant by “status quo.”
“I took it that the status quo was only meant for the position of POC president that if no one would challenge Mr. Cojuangco, there will still be an election for the other positions,” said Romasanta.
“Elections are for the good of every association. So, if no one would challenge Mr. Cojuangco, the other officers will go through the exercise,” said Romasanta, eyeing the post of first vice-president.
Romasanta said it would be better for whoever is interested in running, especially for the presidency, to declare his intention before the deadline of the filing of candidacy on Oct. 26.
“If this drags on it will not be for the good of everybody. Mr. Cojuangco has declared he is running. The others must come out with a definitive statement so the rules of engagement can be made.
“A lot of people are already campaigning for MVP. They have to put a stop to this. Or he will not hear the end of it, some people saying, ‘I helped you get there,’” said Romasanta.
Cojuangco yesterday said three persons have personally asked President Aquino, his nephew, if they could challenge him in the next POC elections.
“These people went to him (the President) asking if they could run against me,” said Cojuangco yesterday.
Cojuangco did not name names but added that the President responded by saying, “Of course. I don’t interfere with the POC elections.”
“This shows that I wouldn’t be here just because Noynoy is the President,” said Cojuangco, who in 2008 ran and won against Macapagal, half brother of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“And yet people supported me,” said Cojuangco, again openly declaring his candidacy. He said his group is close to finalizing his “working” ticket.
“Sumulong ako,” said Cojuangco, referring to his middle name. “Hindi ako umuurong (I never back down).”