Mequi and company vow to pursue Peping's ouster
The simultaneous movements held in Manila and Cebu by sports personalities calling for the ouster of Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco were not as enormous as expected.
But if there was anything significant gained from their actions on the National Day of Protest on Sept. 21, according to former Philippine Sports Commission chief Aparicio Mequi, it was the awareness that there are people willing to stand up against Cojuangco.
“We will keep the pressure,” said Mequi. “We will pressure the government to file charges against Peping (Cojuangco). All the government can do is drag Peping to court.”
Mequi was talking about the millions of pesos of unliquidated advances from the Philippine Sports Commission when the country hosted the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.
On Thursday, Mequi and some sports leaders, including Philippine Swimming League (PSC) chairperson and former sentor Nikki Coseteng, joined more than a hundred athletes and officials in a protest action against Cojuangco.
“I don’t hate Peping as a person. I hate what he personifies. Peping personifies bad performance and bad governance,” said Mequi, citing the recent debacle of the Philippine in the KL Southeast Asian Games where it produced only 24 golds for 6th place.
Mequi appealed to heads of national sports associations, which make up the POC, to be patriotic and reorganize from within their own ranks.
“I beg for the others (POC officials) to help reorganize the POC,” said Mequi. “Let’s be patriotic. To institute change, you have to implode from within,” stated Mequi, who also revealed that there are about NSAs working from behind the scene to topple Cojuangco.
Coseteng believes that she is seeing that a change is coming in Philippine sports.
One of the first NSA officials to openly talk about change in the POC leadership is Ricky P. Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines.
“I have not changed my original stand on the need for leadership change. That said, we must effect change in an orderly, legal and unified manner. There are options provided for this in the POC By-Laws,” Vargas said in a statement.
He said however that change “must be genuine. No cosmetics, no theatrics, no ifs and buts. We must opt for fresh ideas, bolder initiatives and new faces. The old leadership of POC was not of one man alone. Those who shared in the mantle of leadership must give way to a new beginning and instead take a positive role as mentors in bringing about change.
Lest he be accused of doing it for his own benefit, Vargas said that he will relinquish his original plans to become head of the POC.
Vargas ran for POC president against Cojuangco but was disqualified by the POC election committee. Case has been filed in court to challenge his disqualification.
Among those who joined the rally at the Rizal Memorial was Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) president Edgardo Cantada was among those behind the rally, and stated that Cojuangco has to go.
“We have nothing to lose, Mr. Cojuangco. But when you step down, Philippine sports has everything to gained,” remarked Cantada in a written statement.
Among those who showed up were PSL president Susan Papa, Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) head Marcia Cristobal and former Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Johnny Romualdez.
PSC commissioner Ramon Fernandez, who has been openly vocal against Cojuangco, led a simultaneous rally in Cebu.
Known as Maxi Green on his Facebook page, talked about the unliquidated funds that the PSC is asking the POC and the NSAs to account for.
“Peping says lack of funds for training, facilities, etc etc. But check the PSC releases to POC and NSAs I forwarded,” remarked Fernandez.
Fernandez said that from the years 2010 to 2016, the POC and the NSAs got more than P129-million in assistance.
With hundreds of young Cebuano athletes, Fernandez posted in his Facebook page, “May Kinabukasan pa ang mga batang ito. Give it to them.”
With the current turbulence hovering Philippine sports, talks about the Philippines getting suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is going around the social media.
Susan Papa of the PSL said if it will bring about change, the Philippine should be ready to bite the bullet.
“Suspend the POC, government intervention is needed. Change the system,” she said.
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