MANILA,  October 15, 2004  (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Withdraw from the race, save face and, hopefully, help achieve peace and unity in Philippine sports.

This is the unsolicited advice given by tennis chief Col. Buddy Andrada to fencing head and incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit regarding next month’s POC elections.

Dayrit was elected POC president in 2000 and now faces a formidable opponent in equestrian boss and tested politician Jose "Peping" Cojuangco when the 38 voting POC members choose their next president on Nov. 26.

Andrada, an old hand in Philippine sports, believes that Cojuangco is poised for imminent victory after 22 national sports association (NSA) leaders threw their support to the former Tarlac congressman.

"This support is unconditional. In fact, our latest count already gives us a total of 28 votes. Celso Dayrit will be in for an embarrassing defeat if he doesn’t pull out. There’s just no way for him to win," said Andrada the other night.

Andrada is one of Cojuangco’s chief backers, the other being athletics chief Go Teng Kok who, incidentally, also heads the national chess association. They are the ones who convinced Cojuangco to run for POC president.

While Cojuangco has formed an all-star ticket for the 11 positions in the POC board, Andrada and Go seriously doubt if Dayrit could even form one, saying the fencing president is losing grip of his former supports as the elections near.

"The most I can think of is six or seven. The rest have either joined us or are close to joining us," said Andrada, also a former Dayrit ally like taekwondo’s Robert Aventajado, bowling’s Steve Hontiveros who are now with Cojuangco.

With 38 votes to be cast, unless there are absences or abstentions, at least 19 votes can win it for either Dayrit or Cojuangco. The 38 votes include that of International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde.

"Kaya wala na siyang (Dayrit) pag-asa. He must step down and withdraw from the race. Then we can elect Mr. Cojuangco by acclamation and start talking about peace and unity in sports. He (Dayrit) will be part of it all," added Andrada.

"In the military, there’s this saying that when you’re outnumbered, you withdraw. This is the situation Dayrit is in right now. Mag-withdraw na siya for the sake of unity in Philippine sports," Andrada said.

Aside from the POC presidency, there are two other positions Dayrit is occupying: as president of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) and president of the SEA Games Federation, the latter being an elective position.

"He can keep these positions as long as we’re all united. Otherwise, saying that Mr. Cojuangco is already the POC chief, we can write the SEA Games Federation and say that all of us, the majority, do not support Dayrit anymore," Andrada added.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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