MANILA, February 28, 2006
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose "Peping" Cojuangco said he is busy plotting the winning strategy for the Filipino athletes bound for 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar and denied he was part of the move to oust President Arroyo.

In a television interview yesterday afternoon, Cojuangco, younger brother of former President Corazon Aquino, said he remains an ally of the President.

At the same time , the POC head, who is facing arrest for his alleged involvement in the oust GMA plot, has no plans of giving up his post as president of the Olympic body.

"Why would he?" said POC spokesman Joey Romasanta as news of Cojuangco’s impending arrest spread like wildfire.

"There is no need for JCJ (Cojuangco) to change the leadership structure (of the POC). He will perform the functions of his duties as mandated," Romasanta said.

The POC spokesman said Cojuangco does not even need to appoint an officer-in-charge as he tries to defend himself against serious accusations that he is one of those behind the latest attempt to overthrow the present administration.

"I’m still the presidential adviser on food security," said Cojuangco, adding that as presidential adviser and POC president, it’s impossible for him to still find time to lead or be part of an oust-Arroyo plot.

"And besides, there was already something going on when they said we were making the (oust-GMA) plot," said Cojuangco.

The former congressman from Tarlac was said to have met with socio-civic leader Boy Saycon and other prominent figures in his Makati residence last Thursday evening.

In that meeting, Cojuangco allegedly discussed plans to overthrow the Arroyo government. There was even a phone conversation with a certain "Delta" who was believed to be Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, another alleged coup plotter.

Cojuangco said that if he were part of the latest coup attempt, he would have planned it much earlier.

"If I were part of that I wouldn’t be hiding. I would be out in the open and not inside some closed-door meetings," he added. "Just what I did in Edsa 1 and 2."

On his impending arrest, Cojuangco said he has yet to receive a formal invitation for an investigation. "So far wala pa," he said.

But in case he is arrested or brought to court, Cojuangco’s absence will create a leadership vacuum at the POC.

And should that happen, the POC constitution and by-laws, according to POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros, would dictate that the line of succession will be followed and the first vice-president should take over.

In this case, it’s weightlifting president and Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella who should take Cojuangco’s place, even temporarily. Puentevella refused to discuss the matter. "It’s too self-serving to even talk about it," he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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