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    Former POC legal counsel warns against IOC suspension risk as court battle looms

    Nov 9, 2016
    The POC presidential race is bound to turn into a court battle.

    A FORMER legal counsel of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) encouraged rival parties in the November 25 elections to exhaust all remedies before taking the issue to court.

    Victor Africa, the one-time president of the Philippine Fencing Association, said it would be better for the group of incumbent Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco and challenger Ricky Vargas to sit down, talk, and settle their differences in a gentlemanly manner.

    He finds it inappropriate to bring the matter to court as what the group of Vargas plans to do after being disqualified by the POC election committee from opposing Cojuangco’s bid for a fourth term.

    “Hindi pa exhausted lahat ng possibilities to resolve the issue,” Africa said when asked about the matter. “Pag-usapan nila.”

    The POC comelec headed by former International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the country Frank Elizalde disqualified Vargas based on the contentious ‘active member' clause in the body’s by-laws as required from candidates.

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    In the resolution made last week, the election body insisted Vargas just attended one out of the last 20 meetings of the General Assembly, which does not make him an ‘active member’ eligible to run for the top post of the POC.

    Incidentally, Africa was the one who amended the POC by-laws and inserted the particular clause cited by the election committee in disqualifying Vargas.

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    That was when he was still legal counsel of the body under then president Cito Dayrit.

    He’d rather not expound on the reason why the clause was incorporated in the POC by-laws, other than stressing sports leaders should never ignore the past in dealing with the present.

    Following his disqualification, Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, said through spokesperson Atty. Chito Salud that he has no other recourse but to take legal action.

    As former head of the POC’s legal staff, Africa said going to courts could mean courting possible suspension by the IOC on the Philippines.

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    “I think all the parties should exhaust all avenues to resolve the issue without exposing the country to possible sanction from the IOC,” he said.

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    The POC presidential race is bound to turn into a court battle.
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