Christmas won’t be merry for Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr.
This after the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City declared the last POC election, where Cojuangco won unopposed, “null and void.”
In a decision penned by Judge Maria Gracia A. Cadiz-Casaclang last December 1, the RTC branch 155 stated that the POC Executive Board abused its authority in disqualifying Ricky Vargas of Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) and running mate Cong. Abraham Tolentino of PhilCycling in the last POC election held on November 25, 2016.
“This Court rules that the POC Election Committee acted beyond the scope of its power and authority granted to it by the POC Executive Board, and had violated its own POC Election rules, when it motu proprio disqualified Mr. Vargas and Mr. Tolentino from the list of candidates for the 2016 POC elections,” the decision reads.
Vargas ran as president while Tolentino served as his chairman but both were disqualified by the POC election committee, headed by former International Olympic Committee (IOC) Representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde, for not being actively present during general assemblies, which the court turned down.
“Moreover, the election committee’s ground for disqualifying plaintiffs Mr. Vargas and Rep. Tolentino is invalid as it cannot take it upon itself to restrict or qualify the term “active member” Article VII, Section 11 of the POC by-laws as to mean physical presence in the meetings of the General Assembly.”
The court also ordered the POC to hold a new election next year on February 23 for the position of president and chairman and allow Vargas and Tolentino to run for POC president and chairman, respectively.
“Finally we have obtained justice,” Vargas said in a text message to the media on Wednesday.
“We were vindicated and the decision is very timely because the sports community is longing for that,” Tolentino, the PhilCycling president, told The Manila Times.
Cojuangco, who is serving his fourth consecutive term as POC president, refused to comment on the issue.
“I haven’t seen yet the court decision so I cannot say or do anything to that for the meantime. Let me see it first,” he said.
Besides Cojuangco, who got 26 votes from 37 voting members, the other POC officials elected last election were Joey Romasanta (first vice-president), Jeff Tamayo (second vice-president), Julian Camacho (treasurer) and Jonne Go (auditor).
The board members were Jesus Clint Aranas, Cynthia Carreon, Robert Mananquil and Prospero Pichay.
Prior to the election, the group of Vargas filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) last November 19, 2016 to stop the election after their disqualification but it was denied five days after.