Ricky Vargas elected new PH Olympic Committee president

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2018 02:29 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2018 06:42 AM

(2nd UPDATE) Ricky Vargas has won a court-ordered election for the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) presidency, unseating Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco Jr. from a post he held for 13 years.

Vargas, head of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, the national governing of the sport, received 24 votes to Cojuangco's 15 in polls held at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong on Friday.

Abraham Tolentino, a Cavite congressman and president of national governing body Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines, won the POC chairmanship.

Tolentino edged his counterpart at the Philippine Table Tennis Federation, Ting Ledesma, with 23 votes to Ledesma's 15.

“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 at length.

"Next time na tayo, magpapatawag ako ng meeting," Cojuangco said.

The road to Friday'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 is no stranger taking part in contentious sports-leadership changes.

He 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.”

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