SENATOR Antonio Trillanes on Wednesday branded Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose `Peping’ Cojuangco Jr. as “the greatest stumbling block to sports development” in the country.
“For decades, sports development in the country failed to move forward and has consistently been derailed from its tracks due to lack of clear vision and necessary will for reforms,” said Trillanes in a press statement.
Trillanes' attack came after a hearing by the Senate Committee on Amateur Sports Competitiveness which he chaired, and attended by the country’s top sports officials with the exception of Cojuangco.
The hearing was called in aid of legislation after Trillanes filed Senate Bill 9062 seeking the creation of the Department of Sports.
It also sought an assessment on the lackluster performance of the country in the 2012 London Olympics.
In attendance were Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia, International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde, along with officials of the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, and Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation.
Cojuangco, the POC president since 2004, was a no-show.
Trillanes blamed the current POC leadership for the country’s dismal showing in recent international competitions.
“The way I see it, we must expect more dismal performances from our athletes unless our NSAs elect a new POC president and replace Mr. Cojuangco,” said the senator.
Interestingly, Trillanes was elected president of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (Tatap) in an election that was not recognized by the POC leadership.
Instead, the POC recognizes a rival group headed by Ting Ledesma.
“We recognize the talent of our Filipino athletes and their display of perseverance, dedication, moral courage, strength of character and competitive spirit in various athletic competitions," said Trillanes.
"It is very evident, however, based on our recent performances in global and regional competitions, that these traits and attitude are not enough for our country to win medals.
“We need a new champion for our sports programs who is gifted with vision and skills to instill grassroot development and promote sports excellence,” said Trillanes.
During the hearing, Trillanes told sports officials that he will be an interested spectator in the POC elections this November.
“I’m very much interested in the coming elections,” said Trillanes while asking the sports officials present about the probable candidates for the coming POC polls.