Vargas steps down

June 18, 2019
Ricky Vargas
Ricky Vargas

For so long, Ricky Vargas fought many battles to gain the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee, taking over a group which he said did want him to succeed from the very beginning.

But barely 16 months after taking his oath as head of the highest Olympic body in local sports, Vargas has resigned, a decision that could somehow hamper for the nth time the country’s preparations for the 30th Southeast Asian Games set this December.

In a letter submitted to the POC board during a meeting which he presided over yesterday, Vargas cited “corporate responsibilities and family sentiments” in his decision to step down.

“After much introspection, I have determined that there would be other sports leaders who would have the time and inclination to lead the POC more effectively,” said Vargas in his letter.

Vargas didn’t finish the meeting, excusing himself to honor a “prior commitment” after talking to members of the executive board in a conference held to “clear up matters in the interest of unity” in relation to the hosting of the SEA Games.

To many, the decision to resign was not a surprise since Vargas, on several occasions, didn’t hide his frustration over the politics in sports and the treatment he was receiving from the allies of former POC president Peping Cojuangco.

Two of these close Cojuangco backers are no less than former POC vice-president Jose Romasanta and Robert Bachmann of squash, who are taking over as president and secretary general, respectively.

After Vargas left the POC office in Pasig City, Clint Aranas of the archery association confirmed that Vargas had indeed resigned.

“We had a good meeting but at the end of the day, our president decided to tender his irrevocable resignation and we respected that,” said Aranas, who is also the head of the Government Service Insurance System.      

His decision to step down came less than two months after Vargas had gone gung-ho, stripping several board members, including Romasanta, of key posts in the various committees.

That bold move even got the blessings of Malacanang.

Turns out, the remnants of Cojuangco’s board would be the ones leaving the POC office yesterday afternoon grinning from ear to ear.

Vargas won the hotly-contested election in February, 2018, ending Cojuangco’s long 13-year reign that saw Philippine sports going to the dogs.

The POC board members questioned Vargas’ involvement in various issues, especially in the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, Inc. and the questionable contract with a company that aims to become the official outfitter of the SEA Games.

Vargas is one of the eight original incorporator of Phisgoc Foundation together with sec-gen PatrickGregorio and POC communications director Ed Picson. POC board members did not recognize the Phisgoc Foundation.

The Phisgoc Foundation is led by Taguig Conressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, who is also the Chairman of the original Phisgoc created with the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission.