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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Tue, 09 Oct 2012

Since Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines president Ricky Vargas, a distinguished businessman-sportsman was among those mentioned as a possible challenger to incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose ?Peping? Cojuangco with whom Garcia has a long-standing friendship and who reportedly helped him keep his post under the administration of Peping?s nephew, President Benigno Aquino III, Garcia tried to do a demolition job on Vargas.

It was another demonstration of the pathetic efforts to keep Cojuangco who is seeking a third term in office, despite the debacle in sports over his two previous terms of a total of eight years.

In his dubious effort to put Vargas and the ABAP in a bad light, Garcia was quoted by two of the major dailies criticizing the ABAP, claiming there was favoritism in amateur boxing and that he planned to stage the PSC?s own national search and even dragged respected boxing promoter Tony Aldeguer alleging that Aldeguer had made some negative comments on the ABAP.

Ricky Vargas answered Garcia point by point in a letter personally hand-carried by ABAP executive director Ed Picson who said that Garcia (as usual among political types) denied that he singled out ABAP and that he did not say anything about favoritism in amateur boxing.Garcia also denied that there was any truth to the fact that he was meddling in NSA affairs or that he planned to stage his own national talent search and that he just wanted to relay some suggestions (which he could have done personally or in writing to Vargas rather than going to the media.)As often happens, when caught in a mind, Garcia blamed the media and said he was misquoted!

Below is ABAP President Ricky Vargas? letter to PSC Chairman Garcia:

Dear Chairman Garcia,

I view with utmost concern two articles published October 5, 2012 simultaneously in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star with attributions to your good self. I would like to verify if indeed you singled out ABAP regarding mode of training, talent identification and grassroots development because the articles put us in a bad light. If your statements were taken out of context or you were misquoted, I trust you will rectify in the same forums.

That said, I would like to give you the facts vis-a-vis the issues raised in the hope that misimpressions may be corrected:

1) "There should be try-outs or qualifying tournaments among boxing clubs in the country."

Since we took over ABAP in 2009, we have staged over a dozen regional and national tournaments all over the country (Bacolod, Ormoc, Davao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Tayabas, Mandaluyong, Puerto Princesa, Quezon City, Dumaguete City, Tagbilaran, Carmen and Maribojoc, Bohol, among others. We invited you to Cagayan de Oro but you were unavailable. Then Commissioner Loyzaga went instead and he came away impressed). Thousands of young boys and girls from all over the country participated in these tournaments. These were funded by our private sponsors Smart and PLDT.

This year we are holding tournaments in Las Pinas City, Bago City, General Santos City and Massin City, Southern Leyte.

This is how we discovered Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga, World Junior Champion Eumir Marcial and the five gold medalists in the recent Taipei City Cup, all of whom were first-timers in international competition. There are several others in the pool whom we will field in various other foreign competitions including the World Youth Championships this November. Again, we will be using PLDT funds for these international exposures; the PSC does not spend a single centavo for our foreign trips aside from the Olympics, Asian Games and SEA Games.

2) ?The PSC is planning to launch its own talent search and national boxers should compete against the talents identified there ?to strengthen the national team?.

I feel this would be a duplication of the functions of our NSA but if you feel you need to do this, then so be it.

We purposely did away with the practice of pitting national boxers against virtual unknowns and inexperienced athletes because not only did this discourage neophytes since they are invariably beaten badly by the nationals, such mismatches are also potentially dangerous. Remember that the nationals train the whole year round and have international experience while those who join local tournaments are lucky to have one or two months preparation. However, if the PSC guarantees they can stand up to our national athletes then we are willing to allow them to try out so long as the PSC holds itself responsible for the safety and well-being of their boxers.

3) ?There are many cases of favoritism?.

This is a serious accusation that casts aspersions on my character and competence. Two cases were cited in the articles, those of Milan Melindo and AJ Banal. Please be informed that these two boxers turned professional in 2005, way before we took over ABAP in 2009.

There was also insinuation that a certain region is being favored by national coaches who belong to the same area. We wish to point out some examples: Barriga and Charly Suarez are from Davao del Norte, Marcial is from Zamboanga, World Women?s champion Josie Gabuco is from Puerto Princesa, Rey Saludar is from South Cotabato. A cursory look at our line-up will reveal the regional diversity of our boxers. Your office has a copy of their profiles.

The articles also quoted Mr. Antonio Aldeguer of the famed ALA Boxing Stable. From Day One, we have worked closely with Mr. Aldeguerand have applied many of his suggestions. We even brought Barriga and four other boxers and 2 coaches to his Cebu Gym a few weeks prior to the Olympics as part of Barriga?s preparations. Mr. Aldeguer welcomed them warmly, did not charge anything for the daily use of his gym and facilities and even provided free hand wraps and land transportation for our team to and from his gym and the hotel.

By the way, Mr. Aldeguer sent us a text message after reading the aforementioned articles, disavowing any negative comments about ABAP, saying he only promised to help amateur boxing, which he has been doing from the start of our watch.

In less than four years we have given the country 9 SEA Games gold medals (Laos 2009 and Indonesia 2011), a gold, silver and bronze in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, 2 unprecedented World Championships (Marcial and Gabuco) and a whole slew of medals and trophies from many other international tournaments. For these, ABAP was awarded the Philippine Sportswriters Association NSA of the Year Award for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011) and modesty aside, the undersigned was also cited as the Executive of the Year in 2011. I feel we have not done too badly but of course there is always room for improvement and if you have suggestions, I am more than willing to listen to them.

In sum, I would really like to believe that you were either misquoted or misinformed because we have always had a good relationship with you and the PSC in general. I see no reason for this to change.

Please feel free to contact me in the future for any and all your concerns.

Thank you.
Very truly yours,

Victorico P. Vargas

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