PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas' top lieutenant lashed out at a group allied with former president Peping Cojuangco which he said is solely focused on a power grab rather than the country’s preparations for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games hosting.
Responding to POC vice-president Joey Romasanta's call for an election, Ed Picson, who is also the secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) which Vargas heads, said such a move only exposed the group's motive which is to regain control of the country's top sports body.
“The difference in the mindset of Mr. Vargas and the misguided members of the board is patently clear. Ricky Vargas wants to concentrate on the SEA Games while the other side is bent on a power play," said the POC communications chief.
"These were the same people who were responsible for the sad state of Philippine sports for over a decade until Vargas took over last year. And the transformation has been quite tangible in the past year,” Picson added.
“And they want elections now? Let us give our athletes a break! As Mr. Vargas said in his speech - "let us not kill our athletes’ new-found enthusiasm and freedom. Let them shine and let us, the officials, take a backseat for once,” Picson said.
Picson said Romasanta and Co. can have the elections they want after the SEA Games.
“But let us work together first for the SEA Games! That should be our primary focus at this time. National pride and reputation are at stake. Then Mr. Romasanta and his friends can have the political exercise they want,” said Picson.
Romasanta, meanwhile, insisted the POC board is not plotting to destabilize the Vargas administration or oust him from his position as president.
Romasanta said the POC board only wanted to get the side of Vargas after he became an incorporator of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation without the knowledge of the board.
The Phisgoc Foundation was formed so it can enter into transactions related to the country’s hosting of the 2019 SEA Games.
“All we wanted was to air his side,” said Romasanta. “He keeps on saying na there are tsismis and inuendos.”