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Cojuangco belittles reported challenge from ABAP’s Vargas

Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr., who is seeking a fourth four-year terms as Philippine Olympic Committee president dismissed the reported bid of boxing association president Ricky Vargas for the top POC post as doomed because, in the first place, Vargas does not qualify as candidate under the rules.

Vargas has emerged as a likely opponent of Cojuangco after some sports leaders rallied behind him to seek the POC presidency.

Vargas, who is president of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP), has not officially committed to seek the top post but a person privy to his plans said the business executive was interested.

Jose Cojuangco Jr.  and  Ricky Vargas

Jose Cojuangco Jr. and Ricky Vargas

“He’s just waiting for more support from other sports leaders,” said the source who requested not to be identified.

But Cojuangco belittled Vargas’s bid saying he does not have the time to invest in being POC president which the incumbent president said is a full-time job.

“Running the POC entails your full attention and you cannot run this by not devoting your time and devotion,” said Cojuangco yesterday when asked about the prospects of being challenged by Vargas.

Vargas heads the water utility firm Maynilad, one of the companies under the Manny V. Pangilinan business group, but has been involved, besides boxing, in various MVP sports endeavors such as basketball and taekwondo.

But filing his candidacy, the deadline for which is tomorrow, may be the easier part for Vargas. The more difficult part is getting the election committee to approve his candidacy.

The rules, as presently constituted may, bar Vargas from running. One of which says the candidate must have regularly attended the POC general assembly meeting, a bi-monthly gathering for all 43 voting members of the POC.

Vargas does not satisfy this rule as he mostly sends his executive director, Ed Picson, to represent him in the meeting.

Whether the three-man election committee headed by former IOC representative Frank Elizalde will amend the rules to allow a more open and democratic election, remains to be seen.

But Cojuangco does not seem to agree to any rules change.

“Imagine, the POC general assembly is held six times a year and he wasn’t even there,” said Cojuangco, adding that he doubts if Vargas can run the POC without his job as a top executive of Manny V. Pangilinan being affected.

“The POC job cannot be handled by somebody who is not willing to go full time,” added the 82-year-old Cojuangco, who is seeking his fourth term.

Cojuangco debunks claims that his 12 years as POC president was a failure although records show that the country’s medal wins have declined over the years.

“How can you say that we are a failure when we won our first (Olympic) medal in 20 years?” he said, referring to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s silver medal finish in Rio.

But Cojuangco conveniently ignored that compared with other Southeast Asian countries where a fairer assessment of his term can be measured, his presidency has been a failure.

In Rio, Thailand won six medals (2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronzes), Indonesia (1gold 2 silvers), Vietnam (1 gold, 1 silver), Singapore (1 gold) and Malaysia, (4 silvers, 1 bronze).

And before Rio, most of these countries have consistently been winning medals. — With report from Nick Giongco