General Admission

Fernandez versus Cojuangco

By Al S. Mendoza


AS I write this, Ramon Fernandez was poised to sue Jose “Peping” Cojuangco for libel.

Fernandez, 63, one of four commissioners in the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), resented Cojuangco’s public accusation calling him “a game fixer.”

Cojuangco, 82, hurled the charge in reaction to Fernandez’s public disclosure of alleged financial anomalies in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Fernandez attributed the money scandal to Cojuangco, who recently won a fourth four-year term as POC president since he assumed office in 2005.

In his last victory, Cojuangco ran unopposed after his lone opponent, boxing chief Ricky Vargas, was disqualified.

Before the polls, Vargas was sprung a rule saying a candidate who fails to attend a POC general assembly meeting isn’t eligible to run for POC president.

That rule is generally regarded as the handiwork of Cojuangco’s minions to ensure the former Tarlac congressman’s victory.

Vargas tried to contest the rule in court, but a judge threw the appeal out the window.

Responding to Cojuangco’s accusation that he was a “game fixer,” Fernandez said: “I am a team fixer and never a game fixer.  I fix my teams to win PBA titles.”

In his nearly two decades of playing in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), including stints as player-coach, Fernandez became the first to win four MVP Awards.

Alvin Patrimonio was the second four-time MVP winner.

Fernandez, called “El Presidente” from Maasin, Leyte, had also led several teams, mainly Toyota, to a total of 19 crowns.

Even as Fernandez’s libel raps are being finalized, the cage legend had given Cojuangco the chance to escape being haled to court.

“If he would retract what he said, apologize in public and resign as president of the POC, I would withdraw my libel case against him,” said Fernandez.

Tough demands.

Maybe, Cojuangco would retract?

And next, we hear him say, “I was just joking, of course.”

Maybe, Cojuangco would apologize?

And next, we hear him say, “Sorry, Mon.  I was carried by emotion.  My apologies.”

But Cojuangco resigning as POC president?

Not in his wildest dreams.

The POC presidency is a prime post envied and coveted by many, what with the perks that go with it.

A reserved VIP seat in Olympic Games is but just one of them.

Cojuangco will not take pains ensuring election victory, and then will only throw the seat away on a dare?

Thus, seeing Peping leave the POC is also like seeing Manny Pacquiao resign as senator.

The nation awaits the libel case aka the sports suspense story of the year.

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