AMATEUR boxing head Ricky Vargas told those gathered around him --It’s your choice between more of the same or try something new.
With that statement he made to a group of sports officials, friends and mediamen gathered around him, Vargas yesterday launched his candidacy for the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee, challenging three-termer Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco in an election set on Nov. 25.
One of the trusted confidants of businessman-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan, the 64-year-old Vargas filed his candidacy yesterday at the POC office in Pasig City, along with other members of his team which he said is running “to seek change in Philippine sports”.
“I think we have a very good team, a fresh team, and ready to serve,” Vargas was quoted as saying by Gerry Ramos of Spin.ph.
With Vargas in his team are Rep. Bambol Tolentino of cycling (chairman), Rep. Albee Benitez of badminton (1st vice president), retired Gen. Lucas Managuelod of muay thai (2nd vice president), Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios (treasurer), and Ting Ledesma of table tennis (auditor).
Vargas has the solid support of Pangilinan, but was quick to say that he’ll do it on his own, adding his team is worthy enough to give Cojuangco a good fight for the top post of the country’s highest governing body in sports.
Sports is in Vargas’ DNA, he being a grandson of Jorge Vargas, a founding member and former president of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, forerunner of the POC.
“I hope he’s guiding me and I know he’s guiding me. I know there, he’s guiding me,” said Vargas, referring to his grandfather.
In seeking the POC presidency, Vargas will be opposing a politician-sportsman who has been at the helm for the last 12 years, a long reign which saw local sports deteriorate with the country plummeting to an all-time low, standings-wise, in the Southeast Asian Games and producing only a solitary silver medal in three Olympic Games.
That silver came in the last Rio Olympics, courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, something that somehow made the 84-year-old Cojuangco change his mind and seek the presidency for one last time.
Meanwhile, POC first vice president Joey Romasanta welcomed the candidacy of Vargas, saying “nobody is preventing anyone from running for office.”
Romasanta declined to mention the members of their ticket.
The candidates’ eligibility to run for office in the POC elections will be scrutinized by the election committee of Abono party list Rep. Conrado Estrella, former International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde, and La Salle’s Bernie Oca.
Representatives of than 40 national sports associations will elect the officers of the POC that will hold office until 2020.