Ricky Vargas counting on SMC, Ayala, Hapee support for PH sports renaissance
New POC president Ricky Vargas pays a courtesy call on PSC chairman Butch Ramirez. Gerry Ramos

SUPPORT from both the government and private sector began to pour in as Ricky Vargas assumed his new role as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

Vargas on Monday paid a courtesy call on the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez at his office inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, where the two leaders talked at length about matters pertaining to the country’s campaign in the Asian Games, the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, all the way to the Tokyo Olympics.

At the same time, Vargas mentioned several big-time corporations which he said are willing to pitch in financially for Philippine sports.

He mentioned Cecilio Pedro of Hapee, San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, and the Ayala Corp. among those which he said were among the first to offer support.

That’s aside of course from the initial P20 million allotted to the POC by his boss at PLDT, Manny V. Pangilinan, the moment he won over Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco for the POC presidency.

“I’m very thankful that there is confidence now, that they’re (private sector) coming in to help sports,” said Vargas, who was accompanied by his vice president at the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) Patrick Gregorio and secretary-general Ed Picson.

“Sports is in many ways, unite the country, and in many ways, is also a way out of poverty for many of our athletes,” added Vargas, who is also PBA chairman of the board. “And it builds character for them as well. It unites people and makes people proud.”

Vargas said he has yet to come up with a ballpark figure for the initial financial support he has so far gotten from the private sector, but he can also count on the PSC.

Ramirez said he sees a more pleasant working relations with the POC now that Vargas at the helm.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“I think we will start the right partnership. We have to respect each other and trust each other,” said Ramirez.  “If people are friendly and they are united with each other, it would be easy for us to journey to where we are going.”

Vargas replied, “We will encourage collaboration. I think that’s the key word - collaboration - and better understanding and better governance in what we will do.”

Ramirez will be among the select few invited for the induction of Vargas on March 3 at the Century Park Hotel. The PSC chairman is going to be joined by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Allan Peter Cayetano, and Presidential Adviser for Sports Dennis Uy.

“I’m very lucky for this oath-taking ceremony. I have the Big Three joining me,” said Vargas. “And if my boss Manny V. Pangilinan will be there, I will be happy.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos