Does GMA want to take over sports?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-09-30

I’ve known Jose “Peping” Cojuangco since 1983 — the year when I decided to get involved in the fight to remove the Marcos dictatorship.

Peping was the silent unsung hero who organized the Cory Aquino for President Campaign. It was also Peping who invited me to organize and head the Cory Media Bureau which my friend, the late Louie Beltran, described as “the team of volunteers that forced the Marcos media monopoly to a standstill.”

During the Aquino administration, when the anti-Cory forces were waging their smear campaign, Peping became a favorite target mainly because of historical precedence. Because the previous Marcos regime was notorious for plundering relatives, the public mind became prone to believing that all presidential relatives were plunderers.

Unlike his cousin Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco — who has San Miguel Corporation because of his fealty to Marcos — Peping has nothing to show. I challenged those who accused Peping of personally benefiting from Cory’s term to cite a similar plum that Peping acquired from 1986 to 1992. To this day, nobody could name me such booty.

I am not suggesting that Peping is a saint but just as I called to task Senator Panfilo Lacson for his unfounded tirades against Senate President Manny Villar, it is only right to question the basis of serious charges being peddled by shadowy demolition teams. To do otherwise is to further promote the anarchy and Information Gap that facilitates the exploitation in our society.

I was surprised to hear that Art Macapagal, the half-brother of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), is now running for the post that Peping holds — Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President. Up to this point when Art entered the scene, it was Cito Dayrit who the anti-Peping forces were peddling to replace the current POC president.

My ever-reliable Palace source provided me with a low-down on what has been happening in the forthcoming POC elections. Per my ever-reliable Palace source, there are three people who are conspiring to oust Peping Cojuangco as POC president. They are:

1. Cito Dayrit — a former president of the POC who is said to be facing charges in the POC Ethics Commission and was said to be also involved in the North Golf Club that sold shares costing around P500,000 but never put up the golf course.

2. Harry Angping — a former Congressman, a member of the board of the POC, but was reportedly absent in over 90% of its meetings. Angping is now aspiring to run for first vice president. He has reportedly received P300,000 from the PSC but never fully accounted for it.

3. Francis Chan — a contractor with the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission).

My ever-reliable Palace source revealed that the three conspirators then decided to butter up to the First Gentleman (FG). They then allegedly spread the word that the FG did not like Peping and was out to remove him as POC president.

They originally started to campaign for Dayrit as president and Angping for vice president. But when they saw that they could not muster enough votes and then the violation of the Code of Ethics by Dayrit reached the ears of many POC members — they then worked and succeeded to convince Art Macapagal to run for POC president.

That the candidacy of Dayrit did not fly comes as no surprise. Dayrit’s POC term was marked by controversies and lackluster performance. But that is not enough to deter Peping’s intriguers, per my ever-reliable Palace source. They worked to immediately replace Dayrit with Art Macapagal.

Being GMA’s half-brother, Art Macapagal naturally gets the support of his half-sister. Unable to find a suitable candidate to oust Peping Cojuangco as POC president, the conspirators imported a force outside of sports — GMA.

I’ve only met Art Macapagal a couple of times but the few times that I’ve had contact with him — he struck me as a good and decent man. Up to this time, Art has never been associated with any of the many scandals that have hounded half-sister Gloria.

My sports contacts tell me that it was not even in the plans of Art Macapagal to run for POC president. As president of Shooting, Art was said to be thinking of turning over Shooting to others because he did not have time for it.

So, why all of a sudden is Art running for POC president? This is quite puzzling because the president of POC has to spend all his time, 24/7, if he is to do a good job.

Another question is: Why would GMA and the FG want to remove Peping Cojuangco as POC president? Peping is a Kampi co-founder and has remained a GMA ally all these years. Other than that — Peping’s term as POC president is marked by solid achievements.

In 2005, we won the overall championship of the SEA GAMES, the first time ever that the Philippines won top honors in the SEA GAMES. In 2006, the Philippines made its best performance in the Asian Games over the last 40 years.

In the 2007 SEA GAMES, despite having a smaller contingent compared to those of other countries, the Philippines won the second most number of medals, second only to host Thailand. Many of the 91 silver medals the Philippines won could have been gold if not for unfair officiating. About 60% of our athletes that went to the 24th SEA GAMES won medals. In 2008, in Beijing, half of our athletes improved on their personal records.

But the biggest question is: Why must GMA get involved in a purely sports affair? Has it not been denounced many times already — keep politics out of sports? Does she not have enough problems already? Why must she try to fix what ain’t broke?

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