AMID pressure from majority of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) board members, POC president Ricky Vargas yesterday gave word to attend the crucial executive council meeting on June 18 at the POC headquarters at the Philsports compound.
In a statement released Saturday, Vargas said he is now ready to sit down with POC board members to apprise the group about the various issues that hounds the organization as well as the country’s preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
With this, he instructed POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio to cancel the executive council meeting he called on June 17 in reaction to the June 18 meeting earlier called by the Board.
Vargas had wanted Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chairman Alan Peter Cayetano to preside over the now cancelled meeting as he is under fire from the members of his own board. It was set at the SM Aura office of Cayetano.
In fact, at least eight of the 13 POC executive council members are calling Vargas to an executive session on June 18 to thresh out some pressing matters in the POC, including his involvement in the Phisgoc Foundation, Inc. and the questionable transaction with an apparel company.
The Phisgoc Foundation is different from the Phisgoc that was formed to handle the 30th Sea Games. The original Phisgoc was supposedly led by Cayetano as chairman with Vargas (representing POC) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez as co-vice chairmen.
But Vargas and several of his staff, along with the personnel tapped by Cayetano for the SEA Games, incorporated the Phisgoc Foundation and made it responsible for the hosting of the SEA Games “and other international events” to be hosted by the Philippines in the future. Ramirez was left out of the Phisgoc Foundation.
Cayetano remains on top of the Phisgoc Foundation, though. Several sports association presidents, however, questioned the turtle-paced preparations for the SEA Games with only five months left before the event fires off on November 30.
But with POC board member Clint Aranas issuing fresh calls for him to explain his role in the various issues hounding what is perceived to be a very slow SEA Games buildup, Vargas has finally agreed to meet his board following fiery exchanges of words during their last meeting last month.
“I have decided to accept the call of the majority of executive board members for a session with me on the 18th of June to clear up matters in the interest of unity in this crucial stage of our preparations for the Southeast Asian Games,” Vargas said.
“I am cancelling the scheduled board meeting called by the POC secretary general on the 17th of June to work out a mutually acceptable date for the executive board to meet.”
Among the issues to be tackled is the existence of the Phisgoc Foundation, which is not the organizing body approved by the POC board.
Its Articles of Incorporation at the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 2, 2018, shows Vargas as one of the eight incorporators together with POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio, POC communications director Ed Picson and former POC chairman Tom Carrasco.
Also to be discussed is the contract with Asics, an apparel company that Phisgoc tapped to serve as the official outfitter of Team Philippines without the approval of the POC board.
It was found out that the quoted price of Asics for a set of competition uniform is “unreasonably” higher than the suggested retail prices in the company’s flagship store.
In a request made by Phisgoc Foundation to the Philippine Sports Commission, it shows that a set of competition uniform costs P51,5111 while the company’s quotation for the same item during the 18th Asian Games last year was only P25,000.
“We’re not calling for an election or declaring any vacancy. All we want is for the POC president to come forward to tell us the truth and discuss how we can help him,” said Aranas, the archery president, and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System, during a press briefing late Friday.
“All his actions were done without board approval. That’s why we’re asking. If you’re talking about good governance, now is the perfect chance for Mr. Vargas to come up with an explanation.”
Aranas added that they do not intend to engage in a media war with the POC chief.
“This is not a media war or something that is connected to the SEA Games,” he said.
“Like any corporation, board members have the right to question the president if he does something without their approval. This is a matter purely internal to the POC and must be resolved in an executive session with a majority of board members in attendance.”
“Let me clarify that there is no power grab here. We want him to stay and finish his term. But in the spirit of good governance, we’re asking him what’s happening. It is normal for the president of any corporation to report to the members of the board.”