MANILA,  November 27, 2004 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - After being proclaimed the 13th president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), Jose "Peping" Cojuangco yesterday called on all members of the countryís highest governinbg body for sports to work together for betterment of local sports.

For Cojuangco, the equestrian president, itís time to bury the past and look forward to the future.

During the POC elections held at the spacious Banquet Hall of the Milky Way Restaurant in Makati, the 70-year-old public servant ran for president unopposed. The ballots, however, showed that 30 of the 38 qualified voters were for him.

"Iím happy because what we held today cannot be said as a done thing or that it was manipulated. Many members gave way and stepped aside with their personal ambitions," he said, referring to incumbent president Celso Dayrit, who chose not to run.

"Now we can show the people that we have decided to join forces and unite for the betterment of sports in the Philippines. This is not going to be a one-man show. This is going to be a concerted effort from all the people involved in sports," he said.

The official guest book showed that only 36 national sports association (NSA) officials came to cast their votes for all positions, including the one contested for auditor and the four disputed for board members.

Robert Aventajado of taekwondo remained as chairman with 27 votes, Rep. Monico Puentevella became first vice president with 30, Rey Jaylo of judo second vice president with 31 and Julian Camacho of wushu treasurer also with 31 nods.

Gen. Mario Tanchanco (ret.) of sepak takraw defeated Tom Carrasco of triathlon for the post of auditor, 22-13, while the four seats in the board went to Harry Angping of softball with 27, Gen. Edgar Aglipay of badminton 26, Victor Valbuena of table tennis 23 and Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of pencak silat 22.

Ligaya Manalang of archery and Hector Navasero of baseball failed in their respective bids with 16 votes apiece. Like Carrasco, they ran outside of the Cojuangco ticket, which was formed as early as two months ago.

Cojuangco immediately named Bert Lina of cycling as his secretary-general. But a couple of hours later, the Air 21 chairman came out with a press statement saying he is declining the position.

"In as much as I would want to serve the POC and Philippine sports, I prefer not to accept (the position) because I would not be able to devote my full time as secretary-general. It would be unfair to the POC and Philippine sports in general if I accept the job and not devote my time on it," he said.

Lina, who also owns the FedEx franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), said he was recently tapped by President Arroyo to join a team tasked to enhance the countryís economic image overseas. The job, he added, would require him to travel a lot.

Incumbent Celso Dayrit of fencing did not seek re-election in a bid to help promote and eventually preserve unity in Philippine sports.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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