SPORTS Basketball Groups’ Vargas Ousts Cojuangco as Philippine Olympic Committee President

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NEW POC PRESIDENT. Francisco Elizalde (2nd from right), former International Olympic Committee (IOC) Representative to the Philippines and Philippine Olympic Committee Commission on Elections (POC Comelec) Chairman  congratulates newly-elected POC President Victorico Vargas (right) at the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong City. Vargas will replace Jose Cojuangco Jr., who held the seat since Jan. 2005. Also in the photo are newly-elected POC Chairman Abraham Tolentino (2nd from left) and POC Comelec Member Atty. Alberto Agra (left).
MANDALUYONG CITY — Change is coming int the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
This as basketball group’s Ricky Vargas was elected president of the POC  during the sports orgaization’s general election at the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club clubhouse in Mandaluyong City last week.
Vargas dethroned former Ambassador Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, sister of the late President Corazon C. Aquino, as the chief of the sports body that takes charge of the Philippines’ participation in the SEA Games, the Asian Games, and the Olympics.Cojuangco held the post for 13 years.
Vargas was initially disqualified from running in 2016 but was given a second chance to challenge Cojuangco through a court ruling last year.
This time, he got 24 votes from the representatives of the National Sports Associations (NSAs) who were given rights of suffrage compared to Cojuangco’s 15.
Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, president of national governing body Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines at the same time, was elected POC chairman, beating Ting Ledesma of the Philippine Table Tennis Federation 23-15.
“This is an overwhelming experience, and I thank everyone who supported my candidacy and that of. Cong. Bambol Tolentino,” Vargas said.
It turned out to be a perfect birthday gift for both Vargas and Tolentino as they are celebrating their respective birthdays over the weekend.

“I really feel very good about this. I thank the NSAs (National Sports Associations). They want change, I hope to live up to their expectations and we will make change happen,” Vargas said.
Cojuangco, head of the Equestrian Association of the Philippines, did not talk to the media after the results of the election was known.
“Next time na tayo, magpapatawag ako ng meeting,” Cojuangco said in an ABS-CBN report.
The road to last week’s election had been rugged, so it remains to be seen what Cojuangco, the longest-tenured POC president since the organization as it is known today was formed in 1975, plans to do after his defeat.
Cojuangco won a fourth term in November 2016 but Vargas, who ran for the presidency at the time, challenged the result in a local court.
Vargas and Tolentino were disqualified because the POC election committee deemed them not “active members” of the organization’s general assembly.
In December, the Pasig Regional Trial court issued a ruling in favor of Vargas delegitimizing Cojuangco’s victory and that a new election be held this month. 
“Hindi ako sanay sa elections. I didn’t know what to feel. I knew that we have the numbers but I couldn’t believe that because I don’t know what politics is all about. But it’s all done now and that’s good,” Vargas said.
Vargas and businessman Manny V. Pangilinan were at the forefront of the creation of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas in 2007, which took over the influential, but underperforming Basketball Association of the Philippines as the country’s recognized governing body by FIBA.
Last December, Vargas was installed as the new Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) chairman, belonging to a group of team representatives that keyed the departure of PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa.
Vargas said he is looking forward to the country’s hosting of the 2019 South East Asian (SEA) Games.

This means working with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who has been tasked by President Duterte to oversee the organization of the Games.

“There’s a lot of things to do. I’m excited to work with (DFA) Sec. (Alan Peter) Cayetano for the Southeast Asian Games. I’d like to work with him,” said Vargas.

When asked what he would do if Cojuangco decides to appeal the result to the International Olympic Committee, Vargas said: “We’ll cross the bridge when we get there. Tapos na, so we have to reconcile.” (philippinestodayusa@gmail.com)

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