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Big firms ready to help sports under new order

by Tito S. Talao

nuel_Pangilinan__PLDT_Smart_Chairman_and_CEO copyEven as forces are reportedly at work to maintain the status quo in Philippine sports, telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, chairman emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, is posing the possibility of big corporations – under a brand new order – getting together and pooling their resources for the benefit of the country’s athletes in pursuit of global excellence.

“If you have proper management and governance in sports, the business community would come in and lend a hand,” Pangilinan said a few days ago. “There could be our group, maybe San Miguel, the Ayalas and some other companies getting together.”

Only recently, seven conglomerates banded for a large-scale infrastructure renovation project worth billions.

“That’s what we’ve done for the NAIA,” Pangilinan said. “We stepped back, took a 10 percent share, not a majority, and said ‘pare-pareho na lang tayo. From a limited perspective, it look small. But from a broader perspective of helping our country, tama lang.”

Pangilinan was referring to the creation of a ‘super consortium’ made of up JG Summit, Ayala Corp, LT Group, Filinvest, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Metro Pacific Investments and Megaworld that engaged consultants from Singapore’s Changi to upgrade the Ninoy Aquino International Airport reportedly with a cost of P74.56 billion ($1.44 billion).

“That could happen in sports, business coming together to help and getting immersed,” said Pangilinan. “But you’ve got to have proper management and governance, that’s what is important. The donors need to know their money will be well-spent.”

The cornerstone of the dream merger between business and sports could be laid down at past noon today when the Philippine Olympic Committee General Assembly, made up of national sports associations under the POC aegis, gathers at Wack Wack to decide if the existing atmosphere continues to be idyllic and to their liking, or whether the prevailing situation now calls for sweeping winds of change to install a new order.

Some 15 months after a POC-designated three-man COMELEC ruled that Ricky Vargas, president of the Alliance of Boxing Associations in the Philippines, and cycling chief Rep. Bambol Tolentino were technically ineligible to run for president and chairman, respectively, allowing POC President Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco Jr. to clinch a fourth four-year term unopposed, a regional trial court found the entire November 2016 proceeding flawed and ordered an election held on Feb. 23.

An appellate court then affirmed the ruling after the POC had sought a TRO, setting the stage for the one-on-one duel between Cojuangco and Vargas.

But then came communications from the International Olympic Committee, urging the POC to “refer the present situation to your NOC General Assembly and request that the General Assembly make all appropriate decisions.”

As a result, the letter sparked new rounds of interpretations that on one side appears to border on defiance of the court order should the GA determine that Vargas remain ineligible, thereby nullifying the need for the Feb. 23 polls as the RTC had earlier decreed.

Pangilinan finds the possibility of a no-election scenario in the POC baffling.

“Aren’t they constrained by law to hold an election?” he said. “It’s a valid election. Can the IOC say Philippine laws don’t count?”

More than anything else, Pangilinan sees the POC leadership crisis getting resolved by heeding the court ruling.

“It’s good to have an election, and see where it goes,” he said. “If it’s a duly-constituted process, then let the chips fall where they may. If the NSAs wish to retain the status quo or bring in a new leadership, that’s where we’ll stand and fall.”