By Nick Giongco
Boxing chief Ricky Vargas gets the golden opportunity to take over the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) after he was given the go-signal by a POC election panel to challenge incumbent president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco in today’s polls at Wack Wack.
A three-man committee headed by Frank Elizalde, who served as International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines for 27 years from 1985 to 2012, yesterday decided to allow Vargas and cycling head Bambol Tolentino to run in the court-ordered elections.
“The POC election committee hereby rules to allow Mr. Victorico Vargas and (Tagaytay) Rep. Abraham Tolentino to vie for the positions of POC President and POC chairman, respectively, in the Feb. 23, 2018 elections,” the three-man panel said in a statement released after an afternoon meeting.
The other two members of the election committee were Bro. Bernie Oca of La Salle and election lawyer Alberto Agra.
A Pasig court ruled last December that Cojuangco’s election in 2016 was null and void as it did not include the participation of Vargas and Tolentino, whom the Elizalde-headed election committee had disqualified for not meeting a key attendance requirement during the bi-monthly POC General Assembly.
The election panel acknowledged the weight of the court ruling as basis in its decision.
“Considering the judicial declaration of nullity of the November 25, 2016 elections and inclusion of Vargas and Tolentino in the list of candidates, the POC Election Committee opened the nomination and allowed the previously disqualified candidates to confirm their participation in the elections,” the resolution said.
Even before the election committee reached a decision to let Vargas and Tolentino run, Elizalde had decided to vote in favor of them running as per the court order.
“I still maintain that they are still ineligible to run…but I will follow the court order,” said the 84-year-old Elizalde.
“I have been called a lot of names…a cohort, a barkada (of Cojuangco) and I am sick and tired of all this,” said Elizalde, who remains a member of the POC and continues to hold key memberships in the IOC.
Cojuangco, 83, who assumed the POC presidency in 2005, was extremely disappointed that “we have to hold an election because of a court order.”
Still, Cojuangco is looking forward today’s electoral process, confident that he will weather the most powerful storm of his 13-year reign.
“We’ll see tomorrow (today) and what will happen tomorrow and the events that led to this will be reported to the IOC,” he said.
There will be about 40 voters on the list, including athletes representatives Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting) and Henry Dagmil (track and field) as well as Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the IOC’s representative to the Philippines.