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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Mendoza: Vargas owes it to Romasanta

WINNING by nine votes, Ricky Vargas is now the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

If this were basketball, Vargas’ 24-15 victory would be a rout.

But the win, already exceedingly sweet considering the hard work done by Vargas to achieve it, was a huge upset by any yardstick of engagement.

And did Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., the man Vargas had unseated in Friday’s dramatic election at Wack Wack in Mandaluyong City, take the setback magnanimously?

Not quite.

When asked to comment, Cojuangco said: “Maybe some other time. I might say something I might regret later. I will just call a meeting.”

By all means, it was a bitter defeat for the 83-year-old Cojuangco, who had hoped against hope of repeating his 2016 victory over Vargas, 66.

Even amid debilitating doubts of a Vargas victory just hours before the polls—Peping is of the old political school of not going to war without a sure win tucked under his belt—cracks in Peping’s armor already showed on election day itself.

Proof: Imee Cojuangco-Jaworski, Peping’s daughter who is the Philippines’ permanent representative to the International Olympic Committee, cast her vote.

That gave Peping away.

It is not very usual for the country’s representative to the IOC to vote on POC polls.

That was a desperate Peping ploy, a necessary devil, though, after Joey Romasanta stood his ground in boldly bolting the camp of Cojuangco.

Months before the court-ordered second election exercise—or was it years already?—rumors had it that Romasanta left Cojuangco, his virtual guardian/boss/godfather for, maybe, 50-plus years.

He was even personnel manager of Luisita, the fabled hacienda in Tarlac owned by Peping’s family for a hundred years or so.

Although he abstained from voting as karate president, Romasanta had heartily hauled Pete Cayco (acting volleyball president), Jonne Go (canoe/kayak) and Jeff Tamayo (soft tennis) to vote for Vargas.

Previously, Romasanta, the POC vice president, had broached the idea of “transition phase” in the POC, immediately getting the ire of Cojuangco.

“So, you now want to replace me?” Cojuangco shot back at Romasanta—dagger looks aimed at Joey.

That somehow sealed Peping’s doom.

Lose the trust of your most trusted ally, goodbye. It happens all the time.
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