CALL FOR UNITY: Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) communications director Ed Picson (right) discusses the recent committee revamp during the 24th TOPS Usapang Sports at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila on Thursday (May 30, 2019). Picson said POC president Ricky Vargas appealed for unity as he reached out to his fellow leaders, including former POC chief Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco who was removed as chairman of the committee on constitution and by-laws. Also in photo is 2016 Olympic Games weightlifter silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz (left) and TOPS president Ed Andaya. (PNA photo by Jess M. Escaros Jr.)
MANILA – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is leaving the door open for reconciliation with disgruntled individuals “for the sake of unity in sports and welfare of the athletes”.
The call for unity is also expected to boost the country’s chances in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games scheduled from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in Manila.
“POC president Ricky Vargas is now reaching out to his fellow sports leaders. We know we have to set aside our differences and work together to achieve our common goal in the SEA Games,” said POC communications director Ed Picson, who represented Vargas during the 24th “Usapang Sports” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) at the National Press Club (NPC) in Intramuros, Manila.
“Even after the sweeping changes he initiated in the POC, Mr. Vargas assured everybody that there is nothing personal in his decision,” said Picson in the weekly forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission , NPC, PAGCOR, Community Basketball Association, and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drinks.
Picson said the truce, if ever it pushes through, will also be “in line with President Duterte’s call for unity in sports with the SEA Games only six months away”.
“Mr. Vargas is willing to keep his peace as long as it will benefit the athletes and sports in general. He is already 67 and looking forward to a quiet life – away from all the stress. Ayaw na nga nya sana, pero may mga pangako pa siya sa mga atleta natin (Actually he wants to give up but he has promise to our athletes),” said Picson.
A high-ranking boxing official himself, Picson said Vargas even offered to call for an early POC election, possibly January, or right after the SEA Games.
“But our lawyers reminded us that the POC election could only be held on the last Friday of November of an Olympic year -- 2020. If we call an early election, the POC needs at least 3/ 4 votes of the general assembly to amend the constitution,” he said.
Picson clarified that former POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and his three major allies – Jose Romasanta, Robert Bachmann and Richard Ho – were removed from office during a heated general assembly last Monday in order to “fast track the reforms that we are seeking”.
“They were actually given a chance to perform, pero natatagalan na si (taking too long) Mr. Vargas and his POC officials, who only have until next year to do their work,” he said.
Cojuangco, who lost to Vargas during a hotly-contested elections last year, was removed as chairman of the committee on constitution and by-laws.
Romasanta was replaced as chef de mission to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by POC chairman Cong. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, while Bachmann was removed as chairman of the membership committee to give way to muay thai’s Lucas Managuelod.
Another key Cojuangco ally, Rep. Monsour del Rosario, was replaced by PSC chairman William ”Butch” Ramirez as chef de mission to the Manila SEA Games.
“Chairman Ramirez is the right man for the job. He has the stature (as PSC chairman). He has the knowledge and experience to be the chef de mission to the SEA Games,” said Picson.
“In fairness to (former CDM) Cong. Del Rosario, he even told us he was busy during his campaign as Makati Vice Mayor. He is still busy after his failed election campaign and even plan to go to the United States” he added.
Asked about Managuelod’s appointment, Picson said the retired military man could be the answer to the long-standing dispute in volleyball, table tennis, bowling and dragon boat.
“We (POC) expect General Managuelod to exercise his judgment well and help find a solution to membership disputes affecting various NSAs,” Picson said. (PR)