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Africa, ex-POC lawyer, urges dialogue to resolve impasse

A former legal counsel of the Philippine Olympic Committee has urged the warring factions of incumbent president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco Jr. and boxing chief Ricky Vargas to resolve the issue without going to court to avoid sanction from the International Olympic Committee.

This is what lawyer Victor Africa said yesterday as he expressed concern at the ongoing disagreement between the two camps.

“Hindi pa exhausted lahat ng possibilities to resolve the issue,” said Africa in an interview yesterday, referring to the POC election issues that has gripped the local sports community.

“I think all the parties should exhaust all avenues to resolve the issue without exposing the country to possible sanction from the IOC.”

It was under the POC leadership of Cito Dayrit when Africa got involved with the sports body, acting as the group’s legal counsel which revised its charter, in particular the ‘active member’ status of national sports association (NSA) leaders.

The ‘active member’ issue has been front and center of smoldering dispute between the two groups following the disqualification of Vargas as presidential candidate on the Nov. 25 polls.

The three-man election committee (COMELEC) led by Frank Elizalde, former IOC representative to the Philippines, barred Vargas from challenging Cojuangco during last month’s General Assembly based on Article 7, Section 11 of its bylaws.

The rule states that a candidate for both the president and chairman of the POC should be an ‘active member’ of the GA for two consecutive years, and Elizalde said that Vargas failed to satisfy this directive.

Vargas appealed his DQ case, but the panel remained firm on its initial decision, disqualifying the boxing official anew, triggering speculations that point to Vargas’ camp filing a case and seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to postpone the POC elections.

Africa, returning to the local sports world as part of the Philippine Sports Commission’s talent identification program also known as Philippine Sports Institute (PSI), said that it’s not too late for the two camps to talk.
“Pag-usapan nila ng mabuti kung kaya pa,” said Africa.