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Fernandez strikes back, files P10 million libel case against POC chief Peping Cojuangco.
Former basketball star Ramon Fernandez filed a P10-million libel case against Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco for branding him as a game fixer after attending a sportswriters forum last February.
The case was filed in Cebu City by Fernandez, who is also seeking P50,000 as exemplary damages in his suit against the 82-year-old former Tarlac lawmaker and younger brother of the late former President Corazon C. Aquino.
“We are filing libel and or grave oral defamation charges for his (Cojuangco) allegations when he was interviewed by the Manila press after a PSA (Philippine Sports Association) forum. It is upon me to give him a chance to prove his allegations in the future proper forum,” said Fernandez, who currently holds the position of commissioner in the Philippine Sports Commission.
Cojuangco alleged during the weekly forum that he has personal knowledge and even individuals who can support his bold allegations against the 63-year-old former Toyota and San Miguel star.
Fernandez said he was forced to file a case because the claim by Cojuangco because he was no longer playing.
“There had been such kind of accusations against me in the past but it was never substantiated. I was never charged.
Ngayon ginawa niya yun, I have to do something,” said Fernandez, who was accompanied by his wife Karla Kintanar-Fernandez and lawyer Ramsey Quijano.
“I wouldn’t have minded if he made the allegations when I was still playing. I would have let my game do the talking.
But it’s a different story now. He should have given respect to the position I’m in right now, being an assistant secretary to the President at that.”
Now that he has filed it, Fernandez said it is Cojuangco’s chance to prove his allegations in the right forum.
“I think this is one way to get him to answer the real issue that I brought against him,” he said.
Since assuming the position of commissioner, Fernandez became Cojuangco’s harshest critic that has repeatedly called for his resignation as he has not done anything noteworthy even after three terms as POC president.
Fernandez also took note of Cojuangco’s alleged misuse of funds that came from the PSC during the time of close friend Richie Garcia.
According to documents that Fernandez submitted, the POC was said to have benefitted heavily from his closeness with Garcia to the tune of P129-million from 2010 until 2016 that was sometimes camouflaged as financial help to athletes.
In 2013, the PSC even allotted P38-million for the POC’s holding of the Asian Games Centennial that was scrapped at the last minute because of super typhoon Yolanda.
“You spent R38 million for a single event na alam natin hindi natuloy dahil binagyo. Is that a sporting program for the athletes? Is it the mandate of the PSC to fund such event? The POC has to liquidate because that’s people’s money.”
Fernandez also raised the issue of the country’s deteriorating performance in the international scene that even in the biennial Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines was lagging behind.
“The real issue here is the abuse of power. Ang pera ng PSC ay para sa mga atleta but ang nangyari ay parang naging milking cow ng POC ang PSC kaya kawawa ang mga atleta. I am doing this as a former national player,” said Fernandez.
Still, Fernandez says he is willing to sit down with Cojuangco for an out-of-court settlement.
“Like a true sportsman, we can always talk about it if they want to settle out of court. I am putting up a sports program targeting to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, maybe he can fund that.”
He will also withdraw the case if Cojuangco gives in to his three conditions: “He must retract his statement, make a public apology and resign as POC president.”
Told about Fernandez’s filing, Cojuangco sounded undaunted.
“Pagbabayaran niya ang lahat ng ito,” he said.