Ricky Vargas camp not ruling out court action if POC disqualification not reversed
Ricky Vargas in attendance during the meeting with members of the POC election committee. Reuben Terrado

THE camp of Ricky Vargas said it will not hesitate to go to court the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) election committee to disqualify him from the presidential election is not reversed.

Vargas, bringing a battery of lawyers, has formally appealed the election committee's decision to disqualify him from running for POC president against incumbent Peping Cojuangco on Thursday in a meeting at the UCC Capital Commons in Pasig City.

The election committee is expected to make its decision within 24 hours.

While he already stated his appeal point for point on Thursday, Vargas said he is inclined to go to court if the election committee will continue to insist that he is not eligible to run.

“’Yung resort to court is only reasonable given the circumstance,” said Atty. Jake Corporal, Vargas’ legal counsel in relation to the disqualification case. “You need a court to define our rights. And that should be expected.”

The POC election committee disqualified Vargas to run as POC president for not meeting the qualifications of an active member, interpreted by the poll body as the person’s attendance in the bimonthly general assemblies by the national Olympic body.

[See POC election committee heads out Vargas appeal, vows decision 'within 24 hours']

But Vargas insisted that the term “active member” has a vague definition, with their interpretation being a national sports association which functions as a body, such as holding regular competitions and joining international tournaments.

Bringing the case to court, however, could also lead to a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) of the November 25 elections, raising new issues such as government intervention that could lead to a possible suspension for the POC by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Corporal, however, insisted that they are only out to protect the rights of Vargas.

“Whether there will be sanctions, then it’s not up to us to say na aatras kami para hindi ma-sanction. We are in the right. All we want is, like Mr. Vargas said, follow a democratic process. Give them the choice, give the electors the choice, and let them decide the fate of the POC.

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"Hindi ‘yung from the beginning, hindi mo na patatakbuhin ‘yung kabayo. That’s not fair. If it’s a race, then let them run the race,” said Corporal.

Corporal said the POC should have amended the by-laws citing what an “active member” should be in order to avoid any misinterpretations.

“The committee appears to have admitted that they tried to define what that phrase meant. But they tried to define it among themselves, and among the committee members, when if you really want to define it, they should have defined it at the committee level, raised it to the general assembly, let the general assembly get the required votes of three-fourths, and then, it becomes an amendment to the by-laws.

“What they are making us do is they are holding us to a qualification that is not in the by-laws,” said Corporal.

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