Peping’s Gambit

Chinese Embassy, Makati
June 10, 2014
Peping’s Gambit

Not all are apparently happy and supportive of the decision by soon to be American chess grandmaster Wesley So to switch allegiance from our beloved Philippines to the United States.
And surprisingly, he’s not the person named Butch Pichay, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president.
Guess who he is?
He’s no less than Jose “Peping” Cojunagco, Jr. Philippine Olympic Committee president. Ex-Phl fencing chief. Former Tarlac Congressman. Brother of our late President Cory Aquino. Uncle of our incumbent Chief Executive PNoy.
Guess what he said?
“If being Filipino means that little to him, I would be happier that he stops being a Filipino,” Cojuangco tells The Philippine STAR and Sportsmaryosep.
Strong words.
Peping’s stand is somewhat in contrast to what everybody else has voiced. Like Pichay’s secretary-general at NCFP, Bambol Tolentino. “We lost a national treasure,” he says. “We can’t do anything about it, it’s a family decision and, of course, we cannot give what the United States is offering. It’s really beyond our control,” he adds.
Eugene Torre, the face of Philippine chess for a long time being Asia’s first chess GM in 1974 and a quarterfinalist in the World Championship Candidates Matches in 1983, was more pronounced, intimating that the 20-year-old Webster U standout should be given his wishes.
“We can’t judge him (So) if his ambition is to become a world champion. It’s his personal decision, anyway,” says Torre, now 62 years old but still has some stinging chess punch in him. “The best thing to do right now is to agree to his (So) offer to play for the country one last time in the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway this August and set him free,” he adds.
Peping’s Phl Sports Commission counterpart, Richie Garcia, was a little tamer, disclosing that it will take perhaps a lifetime to have someone like So. “It will take time to produce another Wesley So,” Garcia says.
Pichay, of course, has yet to respond to our calls so it means he remains steadfast in fighting off So’s insistence. As we all by now, failure to obtain the NCFP blessing would mean the So will have to shell out 50,000 Euros or a whopping P3 million to the NCFP or go over the two-year waiting period imposed by the international chess federation FIDE on players opting to change federations. It means he will also be barred from joining all FIDE-sanctioned events like the Olympiad and World Championship, thus slowing down his progress.
And then come’s Peping’s counter-attack.
Call it a gambit.
What’s your take?
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

(Photo courtesy of



12 thoughts on “Peping’s Gambit

  1. Is this guy still in POC? Darn under his leadership for the past years, the Philippines played poorly in international competitions even at the SEA Games level. With all the budget at his disposal, the Philippines still faired miserably in international competitions. That practically sums up the kind of Philippine Sports “Leader” he is. I rest my case 🙂 P.S. The Cojuangco are of chinese descent as their grandparent (not sure if grand dad or mom) is a PURE Chinese. China is practically bullying the Philippines. If we follow his logic, “Of being Filipino means little to him (Peping Conjuangco), I would be happier if he (Peping “the chinese guy” Conjuangco) stops being a Filipino” and go back to mainland china where he truly bongs. :d


    • In layman’s term, considering Peping Cojuangco has been the Philippine Olympic Committee Chairman for years now and under his “(mis)leadership the Philippines performance in international competition (even at the SEA Games level) is extremely poor even with all the sports budget at his disposal, he should consider RELINGUISHING his post for the sake of the Filipino people. I will quote him of his own words “If being a Filipino means that little to him (Peping Cojuangco), I would be happier if he stops being a Filipino.” By sticking it out with his current post as POC Chairman which overseas all sports in the Philippines despite UNDERPERFORMANCE or MISERABLE PERFORMANCE of Filipino athletes in international competitions (even at the SEA Games leve) despite fundings allocated by the government at Peping’s disposal, his DOING MORE of a DISERVICE to the Filipino people. If he has the “delicadeza” he should quit his post. Huwag kapit tuko da pwesto.


  2. Funny! A lot of media people says ” Wesley So is changing or seeking US citizenship …” I did not read in any letter recently published by So that he is seeking US citizenship… what he is actually doing is changing federation from Philippines to US Chess federation and NOT changing citizenship as most media outlets claim. Those are two different thing. Besides you need at least 5 years residency to apply for naturalization to be US citizen. And even arguendo he will be a naturalized US Citizen, under RA No 9225 “Citizenship Retention snd Reacquisition Act of 2003″ it provides: ” natural born citizens who lost their Philippind citizenship through naturalization as citizen of a foreign country are deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking oath of allegiance to the Republic. Also… natural born citizen of the Philippines who after effectivity of RA 9225 become citizens of a foreign country shall RETAIN their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic.” So that even arguendo he will become US citizen, he does not actually lost Philippine citizenship. Its a case of dual citizenship allowed by the 1987 Constitution. Just so the readers will know.


    • FYI for media people: Changing Federation is NOT the same as changing citizenship; No where in the letter of Wesley So says he is seeking US Citizenship but ONLY changing Federation from Philippines to US Federation; Under FIDE rules (do google it please), a player can change Federation if he posses the minimum residency requirements in the federation he wishes to represent, there is NOTHING in the FIDE rules on transfer of federation which requires citizenship as a pre-requisite or prelude to change of chess federation. You only have to meet the minimum residency requirement (if im not mistaken its either 1 or 2 years only). Wesley So had been studying in US for more than 2 years thats why he is eligible for transfer of federation. So that when Wesley So will be able to play under a US Flag it DOES NOT mean he is no longer a Filipino citizen. In the eyes of the law (both Philippines and US law) he is still a citizen of the Philippines. He ONLY REPRESENTS the US in international competition and eligible for support & assistance from US Chess Federation, nothing more norhing less. Although it is his option to seek US citizenship by naturalization but it would be later after complying with 5 years residency requirement for naturalization BUT NOT NOW because he is still not qualified. And even after 5 years and he acquires US citizenship, it DOES NOT divest his Philippine citizenship. Under RA 9225, he will RETAIN his Philippine citizenship despite acquiring later on US citizenship by the simple act of taking oath of allegiance to RP and paying the required fees in the Bureau of Immigration. Its a case of dual citizenship and you can be a holder of a US passport but still be a recognized Filipino citizen and enjoy the same privilege as a Filipino citizen passport holder. Heck you can even secure Philippine passport from DFA if you want one and its legally permissible. I know because i already did it before in my case 🙂 I hope media people from the Philippines will correct their news story about Wesley So seeking US citizenship as it is akin to bad and irresponsible reporting. TY


      • LASTLY: A lot of media people MISINTERPRETED this portion of the letter of Wesley So to NCFP President Pichay as quote “I have filed the paperwork to switch federation to the US last year, I respectfully ask that you grant me this opportunity and consent to transfer.” What Wesley So means by this is HE FILED AN APPLICATION FOR TRANSFER OF CHESS FEDERATION with FIDE & US Chess Federation – that is from Philippines Chess Federation to United States Chess Federation. Wesley So DID NOT FILE AN APPLICATION FOR NATURALIZATION with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service United of the US State Department. Changing of Chess Federation is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from applying for US citizenship by naturalization. It is his option though to seek US citizenship BUT ONLY after complying the 5 years residency requirement as per US Immigration Laws. His been staying for more than 2 years now, 3 more years to be eligible for naturaluzation. I hope media people will now be clarrified and somehow rectify their mistake to inform and educate the readers as to the real intention of Wesley So. Having a banner headlines saying Wesley So ditching his Philippine citizenship for US citizenship and using his sour chess relations with NCFP as an escape goat sort of is MAKING Wesley So look BAD in the eyes of ordinary readers who is unaware of the difference between a change of federation and change of citizenship. It is only making more people confuse and situation more distorted/complicated if media is insisting that Wesley So is seeking US citizenship to further enhance his chess career by ditching his Filipino citizenship. I hope a separate articles clarrifying the mess will be made… para naman to do justice to Wesley So and the MISIMPRESSION created by the US citizenship issue. Thanks.


      • You are mistaken. The only way you can play for a federation is to be a citizen. You are misinformed. For example, why would the US allow a Filipino to play in an American team? But yes, you are partly correct, he could still opt back. Thank you for the comment. I treasure it that intelligent people like you read my blog. I welcome your opinion.


      • Under Fide Rules (see transfer of federation can be done by completing the “residency” requirement NOT citizenship. Its absurb but thats the Fide rules which is way different from FIBA rules on basketball which requires citizenship. Hence, it does not necessary follow that you have to be a citizen of say the US to change federation from Philippines to US Chess federation. It only requires RESIDENCY. Residency is different from citizenship.


  3. Fide Handbook on “Restriction, Transfer and Rules of Elibility of Player (!=13&view=category) 1.1 A player may be registered under a federation if he or she has citizenship, naturalization or RESIDENCY in the country of federation. Hence, Fide (governing body of chess) DOES NOT require citizenship to play under a new chess federation. If one is not a citizen, but he has residency he is eligible for transfer to a new chess federation and may play under the flag of his new federation. Citizenship and residency is two different thing. You may be a residence of US because you have been studying or working there for some time but nit yet a US citizen. Wesley So has been in the US for more than 2 years, hence, not eligible for US naturalization since US Immigration Laws requires 5 years residency period. Fide rules requires 1 or 2 years residency period for trabsfer of federation, ergo Wesley So change/transfer of chess federation fron Philippines to US Chess Federation is on the basis of RESIDENCY Eligibility NOT citizenship. TY Sir and great work on bringing the news about Wesley So transfer im your loyal fan. God Bless 🙂


  4. Sir Joey (or Fafa Joey hehehe!) I pick this up just today. Interview of GM Wesley So over ANC (link: = “I did not discuss anything about US citizenship. All I said so far was about changing federation.” Straight from the mouth of GM Wesley So 🙂


    • Read your article on Philstar regarding Pichay’s continuos non-refusal to consent to transfer of Wesley So. Pichay will NEVER CONSENT TO TRANSFER no matter what Wesley or the public will do and/or say about the non-refusal, kapal kasi mukha niyan sanay na sanay na politiko kasi. Anyway, Wesley So last representation of the Philippines in Fide organized/sponsored event was last August 2013 World Cup, hence, he has 1 more year to comply with the Fide 2 year waiting period in case of non- consent to transfer or non-payment of € 50 k euros to NCFP as transfer fees. Which means, Wesley So will be eligible to play for the US Chess Federation come September 2015. Malapit na yan time flies past and by that time 22 years old na si Wesley So and much mature, better and ready to play with elite players. Thanks


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