SPORTS NEWS By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 6 February 2014, Thursday
Trillanes scores Cojuangco for sports “mess”
Senator Antonio Trillanes blamed Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. for the current poor state of Philippine sports in a hearing of the Senate Games and Amusements Committee yesterday.
The meeting was to discuss and deliberate on two proposed Senate bills. Trillanes’s Senate Bill No. (SBN) 649 advocates the creation of a Department of Sports, while Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s SBN 2019 seeks to create a National Academy of Sports as an attached agency of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Present at the hearing were Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate Games and Amusements Committee, and heads and officials from various government agencies, including the PSC and POC.
PSC Commissioner Jose Luis R. Gomez gave a presentation on the current state of Philippine sports. He pointed out that Filipino athletes have high potential for success, but that lack of funding and equipment, low salaries, and outdated facilities are hampering their development.
POC Chairman Tom T. Carrascoso Jr. and POC Executive Director Cynthia Carrion also answered questions from Angara, but came under fire from Trillanes.
Trillanes alleged, “the big problem is Peping Cojuangco in the POC…he played politics…he messed it up” and called the POC and PSC officials “lackeys” and “rubberstamps” of Cojuangco.
Carrion sprang to Cojuangco’s defense, saying “I’m not a lackey of Peping Cojuangco, but I think he’s doing a good job.” It is Cojuangco’s third term as POC head; he has served since 2005.
Trillanes pointed out that the Philippines’ ranking in the South East Asian Games (SEA Games) steadily declined during Cojuangco’s watch – from first place in 2005 (an achievement “inherited”, he said, from former POC president Celso Dayrit, who served from 1999 to 2004), to 5th in 2007, 6th in 2009, and 7th in 2013.
The irate senator told Carrion, “Let’s thank him [Cojuangco] for bringing us to 7th place from 1st [in the SEA Games], ” adding “defending Cojuangco is untenable…I’m trying to restrain myself.”
He cited several problems that he ascribed to Cojuangco. Chess grandmaster Wesley So was not recognized by the PSC nor the PSC because “he defied Cojuangco” and was thus not allowed to join the SEA Games.
The Philippine Dragon Boat team, for the same reason, was not included among the teams that competed in the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, despite being a consistent medal winner.
In table tennis, Trillanes’s sport, he pointed to “ghost tournaments” being run by an associate of Cojuangco and funded by the PSC.
Trillanes made similar explosive remarks in October 2013 during a meeting of a Senate sub-committee that was deliberating the PSC’s budget proposal for 2014.
At that meeting, he announced that he filed a malversation case before the Office of the Ombudsman against Cojuangco, Garcia, and other officials of the PSC and the POC for allegedly releasing funds to bogus national sports associations (NSA).
Trillanes’s proposal to create a Department of Sports, he said, will address the need for youth and sports development programs from the grassroots level, and do away with the PSC.
“There are ‘untouchables’ in Philippine sports,” he said. “Gusto nating basagin iyan [we want to break that].” ***