25 out of 40 NSAs said to back Vargas.
By NICK GIONGCO
Despite the grim prognosis, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) President Ricky Vargas is pinning his hopes on a petition letter signed by majority of national sports associations urging the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to allow him to challenge Jose "Peping" Cojuangco for the presidency this Friday.
Vargas has apparently garnered the support of about 25 national sports associations and personages that can cast votes when elections are held at Wack Wack.
ABAP Secretary-General Ed Picson said the 25 include key players who have strong links to Cojuangco, including POC First Vice President Joey Romasanta, and even canoe-kayak's Jonne Go and Jeff Tamayo of soft tennis.
A three-man election panel that was formed by the POC after Monday's extraordinary General Assembly - made up of La Salle's Bernie Oca, topnotch election lawyer Alberto Agra and headed by former International Olympic Committee Representative to the Philippine Frank Elizalde - will meet to determine Vargas' fate.
Elizalde, who headed a similar committee in 2016 that disqualified Vargas from running against Cojuangco, is expected to arrive in Manila today from the Winter Olympics in Korea.
Picson said the petition resonates "with the voice of the POC General Assembly."
"We will present it before the elections this Friday," he said.
Vargas, whose bloc is represented by key sports, including basketball, boxing, weightlifting and football, was distraught with the impending ruling barring him from getting to meet Cojuangco head-on.
"I don't think we even have the right to question (composition of the election committee). It's a leadership that doesn't allow that kind of openness," said Vargas, whose candidacy is backed by tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan.
"I hope they would be more prudent about it and more democratic and allow us to be part of the selection of the committee. It is their appointment and nothing to do with us. It could be the same people who'd be asked to interpret again and you know what's going to be the answer," he added.
If Vargas is prevented from running, citing the very same reason why he was disqualified in 2016 - for not being actively participating in the bi-monthly GA - Cojuangco, 83, is expected to run unopposed.
Vargas had earlier hoped the POC would heed the call of a Pasig court to allow him to run against Cojuangco, citing that ignoring the court order will result to dire consequences.
There will be 40 voters during Friday's elections with Cojuangco needing 21 to keep his post.
Ricky Vargas, President of Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) (MB photo | Kevin Tristan Espiritu)