DECLARING it a moral victory, the four protesting groups of horse owners led by the Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners (MARHO) welcomed the appointment of lawyer Jose Ferdinand “Joy” M. Rojas II, a board member of the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom), as officer-in-charge of the racing body.
“This is a moral victory not just for horse owners but for all sectors of the racing industry. We thank President Arroyo for listening to our clamor for a change in the leadership of the Philracom. We also want to thank everybody who sacrificed with us while the racing holiday was in effect,” said MARHO president and Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos.
MARHO vice-president Eric Tagle said the horse owners will immediately seek an audience with Rojas to thresh out the controversial policies on handicapping that led to the racing holiday declared by protesting owners over the weekend. Tagle added races will resume today at San Lazaro Leisure Park, with the horseowners’ groups having allowed their members to declare their horses for today’s program. There will be no races, however, involving three-year-old horses.
“We allowed some horse owners to declare their horses to run in today’s races in order to give way to the clamor of the daily wage earners and small players in the racing industry who sacrificed with us. Everybody is euphoric that the impasse has ended,” said Tagle.
Ermita said Fianza, 66, who replaced Jimmy Dilag last year, can now focus on his other job as President Arroyo’s Special Envoy on Transnational Crime. Ermita also expressed the hope that Rojas would be welcomed by the horse owners since “they know him.”
Rojas, 42, who finished his bachelor of arts at the University of Massachusetts and earned his law degree at the Ateneo, was appointed Philracom board member last year. A brother of former horse owner Rolly Rojas, he also served as board secretary of the Philippine National Oil Company from 1998 to 1999.
Tagle said the horse owners belonging to MARHO, Philippine Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Organization (Philtobo), and Klub Don Juan de Manila (KDJM), along with the Samahan ng Horse Owners of the Philippines (SHOP), another organization that cast it lot with the protesting groups early yesterday, will sit down with Rojas.
“We want to have a clearer picture of the policies being implemented by the Philracom. But we are confident the new official at the helm of the racing body will listen to what we have to say. Meanwhile, the bayang karerista can now again enjoy the races,” Tagle said.
“The result of the racing holiday that we called over the haphazard implementation of the new handicapping system showed that if all sectors of the industry unite in trying times, we can achieve victory,” said Abalos, who also thanked KDJM head Rodolfo Pamintuan, Philtobo chief Bienvenido C. Niles Jr., and SHOP leader Rellie de Leon for their support. (from a press release)
Photo: Atty. Joy Rojas