FORMER Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco is giving way for the sake of unity in sports.
Cojuangco is stepping down as president of the Larong Hockey sa Pilipinas (LHP) and has asked POC Chairman Steve Hontiveros to help mend fences in the newly-formed association.
“(Former POC president Peping) Cojuangco called me and asked me to help resolve the issues in hockey,” said Hontiveros in an interview with People’s Tonight yesterday.
Hontiveros, who was re-elected as Chairman during the POC elections last November, said he is a long-time friend of both Cojuangco and former hockey secretary-general Jing Arroyo and that he is willing to mediate and find a win-win solution in the controversy now dividing the hockey association.
“Gusto ni Cong. Peping na maayos ang gusot sa hockey association at pinakiusapan nya ako na tumulong. He said he has already resigned (as president) and that it was already approved by the Board of Trustees,” explained Hontiveros, also the head of the Philippine Handball Federation.
Hontiveros said LHP vice-president Peter Cayco of Arellano University will take over as president until a new election is held.
Hontiveros said Cayco is a good choice to take over Cojuangco’s place since he is also a man of integrity with long experience in sports management.
“Gaya ni Emilio Aguinaldo College president Dr. Paulo Campos, who is part of the Board of Trustees of the LHP, Cayco also owns a school which can give scholarships to deserving athletes,” explained Hontiveros, adding he is also set to talk to other heads of universities to join and help the hockey association.
Hontiveros is also very supportive of former Philippine Canoe-Kayak and Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) president Jonne Go as the new secretary-general.
Hontiveros admitted that he was being convinced to lead the hockey association as early as 2016, but he declined due to other commitments.
“Matagal na nating kaibigan si Dato Seri Chaiyapal of Asian Hockey Federation. Matagal na niyang gustong buuin ang hockey team dito sa Pilipinas as early as 2016. We also asked for the help of Dr. Campos and EAC to help train our athletes so we can havea team for the SEA Games in Manila in 2019,” recalled Hontiveros.
Last Thursday, Arroyo and national team captains Marvin Lianza and Denizelle Rasing came out into open and questioned their sudden removal as members of the national hockey team.
“Our national players were removed without due process. We are now exploring all avenues, including bringing the issues to the attention of the Asian Hockey Federation and local governing bodies,” said Arroyo during the weekly “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.
“We have to give justice to these players, na biglang tinanggal sa national team without due process. Our women’s team, led by Rasing, even won a bronze medal in hockey during the SEA Games in 2019. Tapos nalaman nila thru social media na pinalitan na sila. Hindi man lang sinabi kung ano ang problema,” explained Arroyo during the public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Arroyo, who was also removed as secretary-general, said he sympathizes with these athletes.
“These national hockey players were even awarded with Order of Lapu-Lapu award by President Duterte after the SEA Games. Maybe they can also seek the help of President Duterte about the unjust treatment they received,” added Arroyo.
“Yun mga atleta gumigising ng alas-kuatro ng umaga para magkapag-training, tapos papasok sa eskwela at sa gabi, mag-training ulit. They don’t feel the sacrifices of these people because they were never there sa training.”
Arroyo and the two athletes — Rasing and Lianza — plan to write the POC and PSC again to raise the issue.
“We will follow-up on past letters, na hindi pa na-aksyunan dahil sa pandemic. Sa PSC, we will ask about the new athletes who are now receiving allowances. I find it very irregular dahil meron na tayong national team na ginagastusan ng gobyerno in terms of training, in terms of equipment. Lahat yan gastos ng PSC. Hindi naman tama na bigla na lang tatanggalin at papalitan.Therehas to be a process.” added Arroyo.