BEFORE the Senate committee on sports, people involved in the controversy surrounding alleged unjust imposition of eligibility requirements on candidates running for Philippine Olympic Committee president will have a lot of explaining to do today.
POC president Peping Cojuangco and other top officials of the country’s highest governing body in sports have been invited to come and appear in the public hearing to be presided over by senator and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
The invitation was in accordance to a recent resolution filed by Senator Sonny Angara calling for a hearing after Ricky Vargas of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) was disqualified by the POC election committee to run for president against the Cojuangco, who is seeking a fourth term.
The resolution also seeks to probe the alleged unliquidated funds released to the country’s Olympic governing body by the Philippine Sports Commission.
On the same day, a Pasig court will hear a petition seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) filed by the camp of Vargas last Friday, which seeks to stop the holding of the POC polls.
The case will be raffled off by Branch 159 of the Pasig Regional Trial Court.
The Senate committee, in its invitation, asked the POC to submit a written position paper and relevant documents to be provided on or before Monday on issues hindering the development of Philippine sports.
Vargas’ spokesman Atty. Chito Salud confirmed the boxing head formally filed a complaint last Friday before the Pasig Regional Trial Court, contesting his disqualification as candidate.
Vargas is also asking the court to declare him eligible candidate for the POC elections, saying he was deprived of due process when he was declared ineligible by the national Olympic body’s election committee.
Vargas was disqualified to run against Cojuangco for failing to meet the requirements of an “active member,” interpreted by the POC election committee as the constant presence of the person in general assembly meetings.
“Mr. Vargas was deprived of due process when the election committee disqualified him without any formal objection from a POC member and without due notice. Add to this the simplistic and myopic interpretation applied by the election committee to an indistinct eligibility requirement,” said Salud.
“We are advancing strong grounds for a favorable ruling by the court,” added the former PBA commissioner.
Vargas contended that his disqualification without a formal protest from any NSA member of the POC was a clear violation of the national Olympic body’s own guidelines.
He furthered that the election committee imposed an eligibility requirement that is not part of the POC by-laws and that the interpretation of the term “active member” is vague.
Meantime, the Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered incumbent officials of the POC to settle over P27 million that the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) incurred as part of the expenses in the staging of the 2005 SEAG in Manila.
In a letter addressed to William ‘Butch’ Ramirez, chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), CoA supervising auditor Joycelyn Ramos and team leader Marieflor Tubana ordered Cojuangco, secretary general Steve Hontiveros, deputy sec-gen Jose Capistrano Jr., and treasurer Ernesto Luis to follow the order.
Cojuangco served as the Chief Executive Officer during the 2005 SEAG while Hontiveros and Capistrano were also named for approving the transactions and Luis being the treasurer.