Ricky Vargas confident he has votes to topple Cojuangco if allowed to run in POC polls
Abap president Ricky Vargas with cycling chief Rep. Bambol Tolentino. Jerome Ascano

ASSOCIATION of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas asked for patience from national athletes amid the ongoing leadership squabble in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Vargas admitted preparations for the 2018 Asian Games and the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games next year are already being disrupted by the feud between him and incumbent POC president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco.

But the boxing prexy asked for patience, expressing hope that everything will turn out fine in the end.

“(The leadership impasse) has already affected the preparation for both the Asiad and SEA Games,” he said following Monday’s extraordinary general assembly of the national Olympic body at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

“Kaunting pasensiya lang at gaganda rin ito,” added Vargas when asked what his message to the athletes was.

Vargas, who is also the current chairman of the PBA, said a number of athletes had already approached him.

“There are athletes having a difficult time understanding this whole process. All they want is to play for the country and win for the country, and they’re being interrupted with everything that is happening, and rightfully so,” he said.

The general assembly voted to hold another POC election on Feb. 23, but left it up to an election committee led by former International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative Frank Elizalde to decide whether Vargas and Bambol Tolentino of cycling are eligible to run for president and chairman, respectively, of the country’s Olympic governing body.

The same committee under Elizalde decided to disqualify both Vargas and Tolentino from seeking the same post in November of 2016, paving the way for Cojuangco winning an unprecedented fourth straight term as president.

Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Vargas is confident they have the numbers to topple Cojuangco.  

“I won’t be here if we did not have it,” said Vargas. “That’s why the question of chairman (Tolentino) was why they did not want to divide the house.”

Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz also attended the special meeting where she expressed her wish for the holding of a ‘free, fair, and credible elections.’

 “She expressed intention of wanting to push through with an election,” said Vargas, who revealed the Filipino weightlifter spoke before the assembly held behind closed doors.

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