Breaking promises is nothing new for ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
In fact, his decision to renege on his previous promise to Ricky Vargas had created friction between the former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president and the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) during the buildup for the 30th SEA Games last year.
According to squash president Robert Bachmann, the relationship between Cayetano and Vargas had gone sour after the Phisgoc chair broke his promise of giving the POC an equal share of the P200-million sponsorship money coming from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
In a previous report, PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo said the P200-million was the sponsorship package that they allotted to Phisgoc pursuant to Memorandum Circular 56 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea exhorting all government agencies and controlled corporations to help Phisgoc in its hosting of the biennial meet.
Bachmann said he had a one-on-one meeting with Vargas in his office at the Ramon Cojuangco Building in Makati City on 14 June of last year when he found him furious while in a telephone conversation with one of Cayetano’s deputies.
“He was fuming mad,” said Bachmann in an exclusive telephone conversation Wednesday morning.
“He said he was upset because one of Cayetano’s men told him that the POC would only receive P10 million instead of the P100 million earlier promised by Phisgoc. He felt duped and misled.”
Bachmann said he was no longer surprised when Vargas tendered his resignation as president of POC and, eventually, co-vice chair of Phisgoc a few days later.
“At that time, the POC board members were already pressing him to explain his participation in Phisgoc,” said Bachmann, who served as chair of the POC membership committee under Vargas’ leadership.
“But instead of explaining, he tendered his resignation from the POC on 18 June. Then, he told us that he had already stepped down from Phisgoc.”
Daily Tribune tried to secure a comment from Vargas, but he refused to issue a statement.
Calls and Viber messages made to Vargas were also unreturned.
In a telephone conversation with Vargas last week, however, he admitted that he already distanced himself from Phisgoc.
He said Phisgoc “wasn’t (his) creation” and he has no idea how much funds it generated as he already stepped down before it got to host the SEA Games.
“I have no idea what happened to Phisgoc as I was no longer part of it when the funds started to come in,” said Vargas, who said that he is ready to lead the call for the embattled body to present the audited financial report during its hosting of the SEA Games.
“I have all the documents to show that I resigned from Phisgoc even before the Southeast Asian Games.”
Bachmann, however, denied that the P10 million from Phisgoc was credited to the POC.
“I checked with (POC treasurer) Julian (Camacho) and he told me that the P10 million from Phisgoc wasn’t credited to our account.”
Not yet off the hook
But POC executive council members claim that Vargas is not yet off the hook despite claiming that he was no longer part of Phisgoc during the SEA Games.
Vargas still needs to respond to the unanswered board resolution that asks him to explain why he caused the incorporation of the committee into a foundation without disclosing this plan and previously seeking board approval that made as one performed in excess of his authority.
Aside from Vargas, also part of Phisgoc were former POC chairman Tom Carrasco, former secretary general Patrick Gregorio and former POC communications director Ed Picson as well as Cayetano’s former high school teacher Ramon Suzara, boyhood pal Donaldo Caringal, top aide Monica Mitra and former Taguig City Hall graphic artist Dexter Estacio.
Phisgoc’s Articles of Incorporation filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 27 June 2018 shows Phisgoc’s desire to arrogate for itself the functions and responsibility exclusively reserved for the POC as the franchise holder of the SEA Games by virtue of its membership with the SEA Games Federation, Olympic Council of Asia and the International Olympic Committee.
Among the purposes listed in Phisgoc’s Articles of Incorporation reveals its intention of hosting the SEA Games and all major sports events in the country for the next 50 years and acquire the right to control all funds and monies derived from it.
POC director Clint Aranas said before Vargas can come clean and call for accountability and transparency from Phisgoc, he has first to clean up his mess created by allowing a private institution to handle the games sans the POC approval.
“He can resign for personal reasons or otherwise as an officer or director,” he said.
“But resigning doesn’t mean that he is no longer be held liable for all the contracts and liabilities that Phisgoc incurred.”
“He will always be attached to Phisgoc since he is the one who created it.”