Vargas says 'corporate sportsman' Pato Gregorio perfect for POC sec-gen role
Former PBA chairman Pato Gregorio has been nominated for the POC secretary-general role by new president Ricky Vargas. Jerome Ascano

AS he braces for ‘war,’ the general hopes to bring along with him his most trusted lieutenant.

Newly-elected Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas is endorsing no less than Patrick ‘Pato’ Gregorio before the POC executive board to be his secretary-general.

The POC will hold its first special board meeting under Vargas and chairman Abraham Tolentino on March 5 for the turnover ceremony as well as the presentation of the report of the Committee on Elections on the Feb. 23 poll.

Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), plans to formalize the recommendation of Gregorio during the same board meeting.

At the same time, Vargas also said he preferred Karen Caballero of pencak silat to be Gregorio’s deputy secretary-general.

Vargas made no secret he needs people with whom he is comfortable to work with especially with the mounting problems he’s about to face in Philippine sports.

“I think I’m beginning to realize how big the task is that is ahead of us,” he said.

The association between Vargas and Gregorio goes a long way, solidified by their long relationship as top executives of the MVP Group in the PBA and in the corporate world.

“Pato is a close colleague of mine. I’ve worked with him for so long,” said the 66-year-old POC president.

Under Section 7, Article 7 of the POC by-laws, the secretary-general is appointed by the POC president subject to the approval of the executive board.

Steve Hontiveros of bowling has been the longtime secretary-general of the country’s Olympic governing body under former president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco.

For one to qualify, the person should have ‘served as president, vice-president, or secretary general of his/her NSA for at least two years.’

Under the term, Vargas believes Gregorio is very much qualified.

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“He’s been secretary-general for eight years and currently vice-president of ABAP,” said Vargas.

Gregorio, who describes himself as a 'corporate sportsman,' considers Vargas a mentor and therefore can't say no to the newly installed POC chief.

“Without thinking,” when asked about Vargas’ proposal. “I can’t say no to Mr. Vargas.”

Gregorio comes from a family of sportsmen that includes former PBA Coach of the Year Ryan and Allan. Their parents are both educators - UP System vice president for administration Martin Gregorio and science specialist Lucille Gregorio.

‘Pato’ to most of his friends, he first made the limelight in 2007 when he was appointed as secretary-general of the newly-established Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) under president Manny V. Pangilinan, which succeeded the old Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP).

He was also a board member of TnT in the PBA and later became chairman of the league, after which, was named Executive of the Year by the PBA Press Corps by the end of his term.

In 2009 when Vargas replaced Manny Lopez as ABAP president, Gregorio was made secretary-general of the federation, a position he would held until 2016, when he became vice-president.

Meanwhile, aside from Vargas and Tolentino, members of the POC board expected to vote on Gregorio’s appointment are Joey Romasanta (1st VP), Jeff Tamayo (2nd VP), Julian Camacho (treasurer), Jonne Go (auditor), and directors Atty. Clint Arangas, Robert Mananquil, Cynthia Carrion, Prospero Pichay, PH representative to the IOC Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, and Cojuangco, who becomes an automatic member as immediate past president.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos