MANILA, Philippines – Will he, or won’t he?
With the deadline for the filing of candidacy nearing on Friday, October 26, the sports community is awaiting businessman Manny V Pangilinan’s decision on whether or not he will run for the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
The wealthy Pangilinan, who is also a sports advocate, is considering challenging current POC President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco. Cojuangco is seeking his third 4-year term as head of the sporting body.
Talks of Pangilinan running in the November 30 elections were reportedly ignited by the clamor for improvement from National Sports Associations (NSAs) that will be casting their votes for the POC leadership.
When asked previously, Pangilinan had repeatedly told reporters that he first wants to see “warm bodies” rally around him and assure him of their support before he decides to run.
Of the 43 votes that will be cast, Pangilinan will need a minimum of 22 to seal the victory. Rappler has not been able to confirm reports that Pangilinan has the numbers to win.
As of early this month, Cojuangco’s only challenger is his former supporter-turned-rival, athletics head Go Teng Kok. Go has said he is willing to give up his candidacy if Pangilinan or anyone else decides to run against Cojuangco.
Cojuangco, who has been under fire for the declining performance of Filipino athletes in international competitions during his tenure — including the dismal showing of the Philippine delegation in the 2012 London Olympics — has made it clear he is not backing down from gunning for reelection.
The 78-year-old Cojuangco was quoted by Yahoo Sports as saying that 3 people have asked President Benigno Aquino III if they could run against Cojuangco, Aquino’s uncle. Aquino had reportedly given them his blessing.
“This shows that I wouldn’t be here just because [Aquino] is the President,” said Cojuangco, who was first proclaimed POC president in 2004 by acclamation.
The former Tarlac representative had initially proposed to share the POC leadership with Pangilinan by offering him the POC chairmanship, but the businessman declined.
Current POC chairman Monico Puentevella, who is running for mayor of Bacolod in the 2013 midterm elections, has also said he is gladly willing to give up his position for Pangilinan.
According to a report by the Philippine Star, Puentevella said he had offered the position to Pangilinan twice last year, but Pangilinan, like Cojuangco, refused.
Because of Pangilinan’s indecisiveness, Puentevella said he has filed his candidacy for reelection.
One of Pangilinan’s biggest supporters, Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas, has told reporters that Pangilinan is “open to lead Philippine sports if asked.”
In a text message to the media, he expressed his confidence in Pangilinan and his ability to “bring Philippine sports to a new level of performance.”
The boxing chief, who leads what many believe is the most successful NSA in the country, told Rappler in a past interview that one of the major problems pulling sports down is leadership and widespread politics.
“There is politics in sports and it’s very strong…they [the leadership] use the same political savvy to stay in office. They use political names, they use their own clout to stay in office,” he said.
Vargas refused to mention names but said he wished that leaders had the decency to resign when needed — and suggested a sort of revamp.
He cited the need for new leaders with fresh ideas, and has since thrown his support behind Pangilinan.
Pangilinan is the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and chairman of the ABAP. He also funds sports he believes has the best chance of producing Olympians — including badminton, taekwondo, tennis, football, golf and cycling, among others — through his MVP Sports Foundation. – Rappler.com