By NICK GIONGCO
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday instructed the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to call for an Extraordinary General Assembly that will determine whether boxing association chief Ricky Vargas will be allowed to challenge incumbent president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco in an election that was ordered by a local court for Feb. 23.
In a letter dated Feb. 9 and addressed to national sports associations, POC Secretary-General Steve Hontiveros said that three points will be discussed during the GA that will take place on Feb. 19 at Wack Wack.
Hontiveros said the status on the eligibility of candidates for POC president, a letter by the IOC to the POC and “certain issues” relative to the conduct of the (Feb. 23) elections will be in the agenda.
Cojuangco clarified that the IOC letter, written by Deputy Secretary-General Pere Miro, did not order the POC to stage an election but to “exhaust all efforts” to resolve the issue that has marred Cojuangco’s leadership.
Even Miro made this clear, telling Cojuangco in the letter that the issue has to be handled by the POC GA.
“Now, as we understand that there is an ongoing court case and an obvious need to discuss, clarify and agree upon the practical implications and the next steps in this context, we recommend that you refer the present situation to your NOC General Assembly and request that the General Assembly take all appropriate decisions,” said Miro, noting early in the letter that the “NOC General Assembly as the supreme decision-making body of the NOC.”
Cojuangco admits that the Feb. 19 GA will call for all NSAs to vote on the eligibility of Vargas based on the bylaws of the POC that were approved by the IOC.
But Vargas views it differently and is already training his sights on election day.
“I am happy that the POC finally decided to follow the rule of law and the voice of reason. And then IOC should be commended for their straight-forward appreciation of the situation,” said Vargas in a statement.
“I now look forward to an orderly and fair election hopefully leading to the improvement of our athletes lives and Philippine sports in general,” he added.
Vargas was disqualified to run for POC president in Nov. 2016 that saw Cojuangco earn his fourth four-year term.
Vargas later brought the issue to court which eventually ruled in his favor.
A three-man election panel decreed that Vargas, who hardly attended the bi-monthly GAs, was ineligible to run since one of the prerequisites for running as president was that an NSA head has to actively (physical presence) participate in the meetings.