Step towards unity
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2019 - 12:00am

The simmering controversy on whether the POC Executive Board will meet tomorrow on POC president Ricky Vargas’ call or Tuesday on the majority of the members’ call has been nipped in the bud. Vargas has cancelled his call for a meeting tomorrow and will attend the Tuesday gathering at 10 a.m. in the POC office “to clear up matters in the interest of unity at this crucial stage of our preparations for the SEA Games.”

The controversy stemmed from two Executive Board meetings called on successive days. There was a written request from the majority for POC secretary-general Patrick Gregorio to set a Board meeting on Tuesday. Then, Vargas scheduled a meeting for tomorrow, certified by Gregorio in a circular. Under the POC By-Laws, the Board may be convened by the president at his instance or the majority of the members upon a written request to the secretary-general. The By-Laws are not clear if the Board meeting is authorized in case the request of the majority is denied by the secretary-general. The nature of a request is it may be approved or denied. 

The request was made by eight Board members. It was neither approved nor denied. There are 13 Executive Board members, not 15 as previously noted. They are chairman Rep. Bambol Tolentino, Vargas, first vice president Joey Romasanta, second vice president Jeff Tamayo, Gregorio, treasurer Julian Camacho, auditor Jonne Go, board members Clint Aranas, Cynthia Carrion, Robert Mananquil and Rep. Butch Pichay, IOC member Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski and immediate past POC president Jose Cojuangco, Jr. IOC honorary member Frank Elizalde is an honorary non-voting member. In the internet, 15 members are listed, including Elizalde and deputy secretary-general Karen Caballero. For the record, the composition is 13, not 15 members, excluding Elizalde and Caballero.

Vargas called for a meeting tomorrow so as not to inconvenience the Board. Tomorrow morning, PHISGOC chairman Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano will preside in a no-holds-barred meeting with POC and NSA officials to clarify issues surrounding PHISGOC at the Kalayaan Hall of SM Aura in Taguig. Vargas thought of convening the Board after lunch at the same venue. But the majority insisted to set the Board meeting on Tuesday. Cojuangco, for instance, said he is unable to attend tomorrow because of prior commitments. 

POC legal counsel Atty. Al Agra admitted there are two views on the matter of whether an Executive Board called by the majority, not by the president, is legal or not. “Each has its supporting arguments,” he said. “I rendered an opinion before that only the president can convene a special meeting of the Board. I also opined that a special Board meeting is convened to address urgent and important concerns that cannot await the regular Board and those concerns which cannot be addressed outside a regular Board setting or already addressed in previous regular Board meetings. Further, for good governance and policy-making execution synergy, I believe the president, chairman and secretary-general must be present in Board meetings.”

So as not to escalate the debate, Vargas took the moral high ground and cancelled the meeting he called for tomorrow. He confirmed his attendance for Tuesday’s meeting and had to reschedule several appointments to do it.   Vargas said he will work out a “mutually acceptable schedule” with the majority to set the next Board meeting. The gesture to compromise is exemplary. Now more than ever, the Board must show that it’s united for the athletes’ sake, for the good of the country and for the love of sports. 

Can you imagine the message that the Board will deliver to the Olympic community if word gets around of the squabble over when to call a meeting and whether it is legal or not? That kind of quarrel isn’t even relevant to the athletes’ struggle for excellence. Vargas is in a position to set an example of unselfishness, dedication and commitment that will inspire athletes and shame sports officials who are corrupt, devious and out to protect their selfish interests. There is no question of Vargas’ competence as a professional and an executive with a high sense of integrity. His decision to cancel tomorrow’s meeting and to join the majority of the Board on Tuesday is a step towards forging unity within the POC leadership. Only Vargas at the helm can get it done.

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