Kicked out

Cojuangco, key allies removed from posts; Ramirez named CDM to 30th SEA Games.

FED UP with a certain group which “sees me an interloper and an outsider,” Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas yesterday cracked the whip, removing several officials from key committees led by the man he beat in a hotly-contested election  in the country’s  governing body in sports last year.

In a heated general assembly meeting, Vargas ordered the removal of former POC head Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco as chairman of the constitution and by-laws committee as quarrels among officials came to the crunch with the 30th Southeast Asian Games just seven months away.

Four others identified with Cojuangco— Joey Romasanta, Robert Bachmann,  Monsour del Rosario and Charlie Ho—were stripped of their respective positions by Vargas who said the  sacked officials have lost his trust and confidence.

In other developments:

—Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez was named the new chef de mission of the National contingent to the SEA Games scheduled in December in various venues in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Romasanta called Vargas’ appointments as invalid and called for a general election within the next few days.

Vargas appointed POC chairman and close ally Bambol Tolentino to replace Romasanta as CDM for the Tokyo Games, while naming Lucas Managuelod  as membership committee head.

According to Vargas, he will name the replacements for Del Rosario and Ho, erstwhile CDM and assistant CDM, respectively, of the Philippine team to the SEA Games, a 10-day showpiece which has yet to catch the fancy of fans even if it’s just around the corner. .

Vargas’ move came a few days after the group of Cojuangco held meetings last April 30 and May 25 despite a word from the POC president not to go ahead.

To Vargas’ horror, the group proceeded with the meeting.
“This group sees me an interloper,an outsider. I am not one of them. I am unwelcome,” said Vargas, who in many occasions in the past, had complained that his move for reforms in the POC is being derailed by officials still loyal to Cojuangco.

A letter that resulted out of the April 30 meeting was signed by board member Clint Aranas, something which Vargas found too hard to accept since “Aranas never attended a single board meeting or general assembly in recent memory”.

Another thing that had Vargas’ blood pressure shooting up was the presence of International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, a daughter of Cojuangco, in the meeting.

“I am puzzled by the inclusion of Ms. Jaworski. I will send a query to the IOC about their representative meddling in the international affairs of our organization,” said Vargas.

“My understanding is, she is part of the POC board to protect the interest of the IOC and the Olympic program and not to interfere in internal conflict,” he added.

Vargas called the letter of the meetings as “offensive, insulting, vilifying and demeaning” as it pointed several questions about him with a stern five-day deadline to reply “like a

reprimanded subordinate or a recalcitrant child”.

“But this was too much, It was too offensive for me to honor so I kept my peace and let the deadline pass as I prepared to take my case to you here in this General Assembly.”

The meeting ended prematurely following Vargas’ announcements, leaving some quarters in the POC no chance to question the incorporation of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, which was given authority by Vargas to handle the hosting of the SEAG without the knowledge of the POC board.

Another issue that was expected to be raised during the general assembly was the alleged overpricing of supplies from Asics, which was contracted as the official outfitter of Team PH to the SEA Games.

In a talk to sportswriters after the meeting, Romasanta said the appointments of Vargas “are invalid because these have to be approved by the executive board.”

Romasanta also questioned  the announcement of Vargas to hold election in January 2020.

“To determine whether  he indeed has the support of the members of the General Assembly, to save the 30th SEA Games and the POC as an institution, we are calling for the general elections to be held at the soonest possible time and we will agree to declare all positions vacant if that happens,” Romasanta said.

You haven’t heard the last of Romasanta.

“His earlier pronouncements that he will discuss and explain all the questions of the board regarding relations with Phisgoc and the Asics overpricing did not happen,” said Romasanta.

“He adjourned the meeting after a non-member moved for adjournment. Nobody was allowed to talk.”