MANILA, OCTOBER 30, 2008 (STAR) By Joey Villar - Telecommunications top man Manny V. Pangilinan and trusted aide Ricky Vargas have been elected to top posts in the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines in a change of leadership that will hopefully provide impetus to bring the sport to a higher level.

Pangilinan and Vargas were elected chairman and president, respectively, during the ABAP elections at the Tiara Oriental Hotel in Makati yesterday.

The Smart/PLDT big wigs, who are also top officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, officially assume their ABAP positions on the first day of 2009 or a day after the end of the four-year term of current ABAP chief Manny Lopez.

“They want us to serve, then let us serve,” said Pangilinan who is to succeed outgoing chair Raul Daza.

“I am privileged to join the board and the people of ABAP in their noble effort to elevate Filipino boxers to world class standards and fame,” he added.

Vargas said his first order would be to gather all directors to a boxing summit and planning session as he admitted he has no specific plans in mind yet.

“I would not venture to a guessing game. I think it’s important that we all go to a planning session, put our heads together and map out our medium- and long-range programs,” said Vargas.

Lopez and Region I director Liberato Reyna were elected vice president and auditor, respectively, while Patrick Gregorio, the former SBP executive director, was named secretary general-treasurer.

Pangilinan and Vargas together with Philippine Sports Commission chair William “Butch” Ramirez were earlier nominated to the board in the general assembly and elections that lasted for over four hours.

“We’re making the ultimate sacrifice in this momentous day in order to have a smooth transition in passing the reins to people whom we believe are deserving in so many ways,” said Lopez.

Vargas lauded Lopez for giving way. “The current ABAP president is highly respectable with the traits he showed. He worked so hard to prepare the organization and he readily stepped down facing the need to do so,” said Vargas.

“We had a lot of discussions and he kept telling me he is not here to create disunity. He loves the association so much that he’s ready to take supreme sacrifice, leaving the post that he has handled with care,” he added.

The ABAP board hopes the entry of Pangilinan, Vargas and Ramirez provides renewed boost to the association reeling from debacles in recent international events including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“I feel that my rich experience at the PSC would be a big synergy to ABAP,” said Ramirez, elected as Southern Mindanao regional director.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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