March 22, 2018, 8:11 am
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Protest rally vs Peping fails to muster large crowd

MUSTERING the numbers and warm bodies to force Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. to resign as Philippine Olympic Committee president is easier said than done.

Some groups opposed to Cojuangco’s presidency realized this yesterday after barely a hundred people showed up for a supposed protest rally against the POC chief at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Except for Philippine Football Federation treasurer Johnny Romualdez, none of the personalities present during the gathering organized by Philippine Volleyball Federation president Edgardo Cantada came from the ranks of National Sports Associations, national coaches and athletes.

Romualdez kept a low profile and hastily left once the event was through, apparently not wanting to be interviewed. PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr. is among Cojuangco’s harshest critics.

Aside from Cantada and former PSC chairman Perry Mequi, also showing up were Philippine Swimming League president Susan Papa, former Philippine Dragon Boat Federation head Marcia Cristobal and former Sen. Nikki Coseteng, the PSL chairman, who took an hour in taking potshots at Cojuangco, the POC and the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines.

Among the no-shows was former athletics chief Go Teng Kok, who has no love lost for the POC head and was invited to the occasion.

“You may stubbornly cling to your position Mr. Cojuangco, but after this, who else will respect you as POC president?” Cantada said in a statement.

Mequi, who was ousted as PSC chairman by a mass action of national athletes led by swimming ace Eric Buhain and sprint star Lydia de Vega in the early nineties, remained optimistic, saying: “Yes we didn’t have the numbers, but you know, it only starts one to start a revolution.”

He was adamant that Cojuangco should resign and appealed to the sense of patriotism of the National Sports Associations to reorganize and ultimately demand Cojuangco’s resignation.

“There should be change and reformation (in Philippine sports) and it can only begin from within the POC,” he said.

He challenged POC secretary general Steve Hontiveros, a Cojuangco ally and president of the Philippine Bowling Federation, to lead the way in instituting reforms in the country’s highest amateur sports body.

“I am telling Steve ‘matagal ka na diyan,’ have an election and give the leadership to somebody else,” he said. “Let’s have an open election where all the stakeholders can join.”

Mequi said he had nothing personal against Cojuangco except that “he personifies poor performance and bad governance.”

“Poor performance because you can only look at what happened to us in the last Southeast Asian Games,” he said, referring to 24 gold, 33 silver and 64 bronze medals that national campaigners brought home from Malaysia in the country’s worst finish in the regional meet.

“Bad governance because Cojuangco still has to settle his unliquidated accounts from the last 2005 Philippine SEA Games as well as the 60th anniversary celebration of Asian Games in 2014,” he said.
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