MANILA – Former PBA superstar Ramon Fernandez stepped up his offensive against the camp of Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose Cojuangco.
On Tuesday, Fernandez, now one of the commissioners of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), alleges that the POC has been misusing funds that should have been used for the benefit of national athletes and their coaches.
Some of the money, he said, was reimbursed from the PSC while others came in as financial assistance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
One example, Fernandez said, was the P450 million given by the IOC for the rehabilitation of sports facilities heavily damaged by Yolanda. This was aside from the $30,000 (roughly P1.5 million) granted by the Japan Olympic Committee.
“I talked to the Leyte Sports Academy, I talked to Congresswoman Marie Romualdez, asked if binigyan talaga ng IOC ng tulong. They all claimed walang dumating, ‘di nila nakita,” Fernandez said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.
Then there was also the welcome party hosted by the POC for the IOC representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, Cojuangco’s daughter. Fernandez said the POC reimbursed the expenses from the PSC.
“P179,000 reimbursement for the welcome party of the IOC representative to the Philippines? Taxpayers' money para sa welcome party tapos para sa anak niya? I mean, come on, guys,” said Fernandez.
The claims were the latest salvo between Fernandez and Cojuangco.
The POC president, irked by Fernandez’s constant criticism, accused the PSC official of throwing away games during his prime as a player for PBA team Toyota.
Fernandez said he is inclined to take Cojuangco to court because of his accusation. “'Yung paratang niya sa ‘kin ‘yung korte nang bahala doon,” he said.
He also repeated his challenge against Cojuangco to have all national athletes vote in a poll that will indicate whoever between them deserve to hold their respective posts.
“I'm only asking these questions as a former national athlete, not as a PSC commissioner. Because I felt ever since before na diskumpyado talaga ang mga atleta,” said Fernandez.
“Ang daming sinsasabi ni Peping Cojuangco, hamon ko nga sa kanya, 'Sige tawagin natin lahat ng national athletes ngayon, magbotohan sila kung sinong gustong tanggalin, siya o ako.' Let them decide on that.”
Cojuangco, in an interview on ANC’s "Hardball," claimed there was nothing irregular with the POC's use of funds. He also stressed that he would rather not drag the athletes into their quarrel.
“I never involve the athletes into this political structure of any kind. It's unfair and it doesn't follow. Let the athletes do their thing, let the officials do theirs,” he said.
Cojuangco pointed out he has been legitimately elected as a POC president unlike Fernandez, who is a government appointee.
“Twice I ran and got the votes. Now how did he become commissioner? What has he done for sports? I've done things that produced winners in this country. That is my achievement,” said Cojuangco.
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