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Vargas saddened by Peping ‘snub’

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PSC-brokered meeting comes up empty-handed.

Boxing chief Ricky Vargas showed up during the meeting called by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez to settle differences with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) but left with a heavy heart.

Invited by Ramirez as a last-ditch effort to resolve the mess involving him and POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, Vargas expressed disappointment over Cojuangco’s decision to snub the meeting.

“I am saddened that the door for opportunities to move forward has been effectively shut by the absence of the other side. It is unfortunate that Mr. Cojuangco did not see it fit to honor the invitation of Mr. Ramirez whose only intention was to help find ways to resolve the issue at hand,” said Vargas in a statement.

“This refusal to sit down and collectively seek a resolution highlights the sorry attitude and culture of entitlement of the current POC leadership which has no place amongst sportsmen and sports organizations. Now more than ever i present our team as a viable option to promote our athletes’ welfare.”

“Truly unfortunate,” said Vargas’ lawyer Chito Salud, who accompanied Vargas and boxing executives Patrick Gregorio and Ed Picson in the 90-minute conversation with Ramirez.

“A wasted opportunity. Our athletes’ welfare had been put aside yet again…Mr. Vargas showed up today as he was keen to take advantage of the offer made in good faith by Chairman Ramirez to help find a solution and a mutually acceptable way forward,” said Salud.

Ramirez had extended his invitation to Cojuangco twice and even talked with Cojuangco’s daughter, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, to convince his father to attend but to no avail.

“I just wanted to bridge the gap,” said Ramirez, sounding desperate to intervene before a Pasig court issues a ruling on Vargas’ motion to stop the POC elections scheduled tomorrow via a temporary restraining order (TRO) at Wack Wack from proceeding.

“I felt that it was my duty (as PSC chairman) to try and save the situation by inviting them for a dialogue before the TRO comes out,” said Ramirez.

The court will come out with a ruling today and if it favors Vargas, the elections will not push through.

And if it doesn’t issue a TRO, Cojuangco will run unopposed and earn a fourth, four-year term.

Cojuangco, told about the meeting proposed by Ramirez, insists that he didn’t receive any formal invite from the PSC.
“I didn’t get anything,” said the 82-year-old Cojuangco.

And even if he got one, Cojuangco would have opted to stay home.

“It’s already in the courts,” said Cojuangco.

Even Cojuangco’s right-hand man, POC first vice-president Joey Romasanta, maintains that the meeting would have not resolved anything.

“A ruling had been made,” said Romasanta, referring to the POC election panel’s decision to disqualify Vargas from running owing to his inability to meet a certain requirement relative to absences.

Still, Romasanta says “the effort made by Ramirez was laudable” although it could have not affected Vargas’ fate as being non-eligible to run for POC resident.

Regardless of what’s going to happen, Ramirez says the PSC will focus on grassroots development and enhance the living and training conditions of the national athletes.

“Election or no election, we at the PSC will do what’s good for the athletes,” said Ramirez.

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