EVEN as the camp of boxing head Ricky Vargas prepares to challenge the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to disqualify him from running as president in next month’s elections of the country’s highest governing body in sports, the local sports world expressed its disgust and disappointment.
PBA legend and now Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramon Fernandez said the government sports agency will now go directly to the athletes and coaches.
“The POC has become a circus with politicans running it. No clean and fair elections, no PSC funds to the POC. The PSC funds will go straight to the athletes and their coaches,” said Fernandez in reaction to reports that Vargas was declared ineligible by the three-man POC election committee, only two days after filing his candidacy.
Vargas, a protege of well-known sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan, is seeking to run against Cojuangco, whose 12-year tenure as head of the country’s leading sports body was marred by several controversies.
Observers even described Cojuangco as “over-staying and under-perfoming POC president.”
Fernandez also questioned the POC for receiving funds from the previous PSC administration although the POC was already funded by the IOC (International Olympic Committee).
“The PSC as mandated by law is supposed to fund only the athletes, coaches, and trainers for their training and allowances -- and not the POC and even the NSAs. But the previous PSC administration even gave funds to the POC. And to date, the POC has not liquidated these funds,” claimed Fernandez.
“Can any of you guys research on how much does the IOC give to POC in the Olympics, Asian Games, SEA Games and other IF games as subsidy or whatever they call it?”
Based on reports, Frank Elizalde said Vargas was disqualified from running as POC president because he only attended one general assembly meeting in a span of two years.
“As per records of attendance, I regret to advise that they did not comply with the attendance in general assembly,” said Elizalde during the POC general assembly held at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club yesterday.
Elizalde’s decision was met by a howl of protest from Vargas, cycling president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino and former PBA commissioner Atty. Chito Salud.
“They’ve been there for 12 years. The problem is that he’s not allowing us to run in the election. It’s very unreasonable. If you look at that rule, its only their group which would qualify (to run),” said Vargas, whose candidacy was also being endorsed by football president Nonong Araneta.
“That’s unfair. This is sport. We should face the fight. But they (Cojuangco camp) obviously don’t want to face us in a fair election,” said Tolentino, who was also disqualified for the same reason.
“But we will continue our fight for the betterment of Philippine sports,” added Tolentino, who was to run for chairmanship against triathlon official Tom Carrasco.
“He (Vargas) has all the qualifications to run for POC president and none of the disqualifications,” said Salud, who now serves as Vargas’ spokesman.
He said the term “active member” refers to the national sports association, with Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), through executive director Ed Picson, regularly attending the general assembly meetings.
“It is very clear that it is the individual that has to attend sufficient meetings. And I’m quoting from a document that was not made yesterday or the day before, and has been on record for quite a few years, meaning that if you aspire to be a president or chairman of the POC, you have to attend the general assemblies. It’s as simple as that.”
Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy Jr., basketball and boxing patron Lorenzo Sy also raised a howl of protest to the decision of three-man POC election committee composed of Elizalde, Bernie Oca and Rep. Conrado Estrella (Abono Partylist).
“He (Cojuangco) should be embarrassed to run for reelection in POC against a worthy opponent because of a technicality,” said Tiukinhoy on an interview with Sun Star Cebu.
“He should fight fair and square based on his 12 years of accomplishments as POC president,” added Tiukinhoy, also the regional director of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association and a member of the board of directors of the Philippine Weightlifting Association (PWA).
Said Sy: “Cojuangco’s leadership in the POC produced only one silver medal in the Olympics. Our NSAs are divided because there is too much politics in sports”
Cojuangco, head of equestrian association, first ran as POC president in 2004. He was re-elected for a second straight term in 2008, beating Art Macapagal by only two votes, 21-19 in a close election.