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Peping Cojuangco denies plan to re-takeover POC

Dispelling rumors, Equestrian Association of the Philippines (EAP) President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco bluntly expressed disinterest in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) presidency, saying he has done enough for the council which should now be led by younger and more dynamic leaders.

Cojuangco made the statement before some members of the POC Board which has called for an executive meeting with POC President Victorico “Ricky” Vargas, the boxing association president who is under fire from the majority of the national sports associations for what was termed as a “mishandling” of the POC’s role in the preparations for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

The Games are set from November 30 to December 10 in various venues in Metro Manila, Clark and Subic. But the preparations have hardly moved as the POC majority is questioning Vargas’ role in the Phisgoc Foundation, a separate body incorporated by Vargas without approval from the POC Board.

The Phisgoc Foundation is different from the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) formed for the hosting with the earlier approval of the POC Board, then led by Cojuangco as POC President, before he was defeated by Vargas in a court-ordered election last March 5, 2018.

The Phisgoc and the Phisgoc Foundation are both led by Taguig Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano.

Vargas has accepted by the call by the POC Board to an executive meeting on Tuesday at the Council office at the Philsports complex where he is expected to be questioned about the deals he had entered into on behalf of the Phisgoc Foundation but without the approval of his board.

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Among the issues to be tackled are the expenses he had made and contracts he had executed in partnership with Cayetano’s Phisgoc Foundation team which the POC Board feels have caused damage to the Council.

Cojuangco, however, said the meeting is not a power grab as it was earlier floated by the minority officials supporting Vargas.

“My name was always mentioned, but I am not interested in the POC presidency. I have done my part in sports and we have contributed enough, including the Philippines first and only overall championship in the SEA Games when we last hosted the Games in 2005,” Cojuangco said in the presence of archery association president Clint Aranas, wushu federation secretary general and POC treasurer Julian Camacho and Steve Hontiveros, a non-POC board member but an old hand in the local Olympic affairs.

“In fact, I am very supportive of Mr. Vargas,” Cojuangco said. “I met him several times since his election, shared with him my institutional knowledge and experiences and tried to guide him on issues. But I am being excluded from official SEA Games Federation affairs hosted locally for the Games. Although the Federation members apprised me of what transpired because they came to my house right after the events. But still, I am supporting the SEA Games but everything has to be in order.”

“And no, I am not seeking to oust Mr. Vargas. I am supportive of him. Everything has to be with the full of agreement of the POC Board, though, as provided by our rules and by-laws.”

Vargas seems to be in agreement to the Board’s demand, though, as he promised to attend the June 18 meeting. He had canceled the meeting he called on June 17 as a reaction to the Board’s call. He earlier planned to host his own POC meeting with Cayetano– a non-POC member– in attendance.

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