The elections for Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) officials set for today will push through after the temporary restraining order on the polls sought by the camp of disqualified candidate for president Ricky P. Vargas was denied by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court yesterday.
In a three-page decision penned by Presiding Judge Elma M. Rafallo-Lingan, the court ruled that it did not see any reason why the POC elections should not push through.
The order reads in part: “While it is true that this Court has the authority to issue a writ of preliminary injunction or a TRO, the exercise thereof shall always be subject to the test of reasonableness. In addition, while there is no question that the issuance of a TRO is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court, this discretion, however, must be exercised based on the grounds and in accordance with the law and the Rules applicable.”
The court decision paved the way for the POC elections to take place today at the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club and for incumbent president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Jr. to run for a fourth term unopposed.
In filing for a TRO, Mr. Vargas, president of the Alliance of Boxing Association in the Philippines (ABAP), and his running mate Rep. Abraham N. Toletino, president of the Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines, who was also disqualified from running as chairman, questioned their disqualification by the POC election committee, headed by Francisco J. Elizalde.
They argued that the decision to disqualify them was based on “unsubstantiated, unreasonable, and arbitrary interpretation of the POC By-Laws.”
The plaintiffs also highlighted the “lack of due process” afforded them in the disqualification case.
In disqualifying Mr. Vargas, the election committee cited the POC’s charter, particularly that under Article 7 Section 11 which states that candidates should be “an active member of the POC general assembly for two consecutive years at the time of their election.”
It was reported that Mr. Vargas had attended only one POC general assembly in a span of two years.
But the camp of Mr. Vargas argued that he was an “active member” through ABAP Executive Director Ed Picson, who regularly attends the general assembly.
As for the lack of due process, the defendants countered that “plaintiffs were able to submit their letters signifying their position and arguments against their disqualification, they cannot now claim that they were not afforded due process.”
In the order, the court set the hearing on the application for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction on Dec. 9 and 16 both at 8:30 a.m.
Expectedly, the camp of Mr. Vargas was disappointed over the court’s decision.
“The court's denial of our application for restraining order is of course most disappointing,” said Atty. Chito T. Salud, spokesperson for Mr. Vargas, in statement.
“It would have opened up much-needed space and possibilities for a winning approach to this whole saga. A TRO would have allowed all of us to step back, to agree and focus on finding solutions based on a singular criterion, namely what action would best serve our athletes' overall welfare. If we were able to come together on that basis, we were confident that we wouldn't need to go back to the courts to help us answer that question,” he added.
The former Philippine Basketball Association commissioner, nonetheless, reiterated that Messrs. Vargas and Tolentino remain undeterred to see “much-needed change” happen in Philippine sports.
“Mr. Vargas and Cong. Tolentino were driven by a sincere desire to provide an alternative approach to improving our sports program. They commit to continue their quest to empower our athletes and uplift Philippine sports,” Mr. Salud said.