IT'S still two months away, and yet the elections of the country’s highest sports body has started to heat up.
Fireworks erupted during the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) expanded board meeting on Wednesday when election guidelines for the November poll were discussed on the floor.
POC first vice-president Manny Lopez got into a heated debate with fellow sports officials after he disapproved the plan of the POC board members to approve the election guidelines among themselves.
Lopez, the country’s chef de Mission in the last London Olympics and rumored to be the top challenger to incumbent Jose `Peping’ Cojuangco, insisted the matter should be decided not by the board but by the POC general assembly.
“Gusto nila ipasok `yung guidelines, pero sabi ko, the highest body that will determine it should be the general assembly. Let’s pass it on to them,” said Lopez, who is also vice-president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines, and secretary-general of handball.
Among those covered by the election guidelines include the qualification of candidates seeking the POC post.
Cojuangco, president of the equestrian association who’s been POC chief since 2004, is seeking a third straight term.
“Mahina ang mga batas natin regarding the elections. Ako naman, I just want to have a fair and clean election para walang agam-agam ‘yung iba,” Lopez stressed.
POC spokesperson Joey Romasanta said Lopez’s reaction was premature.
"Napagkasunduan na whatever guidelines na ipo-propose during the expanded board meeting will be presented to the general assembly," said Romasanta. "As if naman mag-eeleksyon na."
Sources within the POC said Lopez’s move was obviously in reaction to previous election guidelines that disqualify an official from seeking the highest position within the Olympic governing body if he or she is not an incumbent president of a national sports association of an Olympic sport.
Lopez once held the presidency of ABAP, which now has Ricky Vargas for president.
The son of former Manila Mayor and Philippine Sports Commission chairman Mel Lopez, Manny neither confirmed nor denied reports that he intends to run for the POC presidency.
“Let’s see what happens,” he said.
Earlier reports had it that Cojuangco is eyeing a team-up with businessman and sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. Cojuangco reportedly plans to make MVP the next POC chairman.