THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) holds its elections for a new batch of leaders on Friday in one of the more contentious proceedings in the sports body’s history.
Vying for positions are the group led by incumbent president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino with archery federation head Jesus “Clint” Aranas and his party the lone challenger.
Both groups have vowed to improve the affairs of the POC if privileged to win a four-year mandate but they, in turn, do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues and have taken one another to task.
In fact, Mr. Aranas and his group deemed it fit to lodge to the elections committee a petition to disqualify Mr. Tolentino and some in his group over certain issues in the lead-up, including possible conflict of interest for their involvement in last year’s Southeast Asian Games held here in the country.
Mr. Tolentino, also the cycling federation chief, slammed the petition as “black propaganda” and urged POC officials to be prudent with their actions, guided by the principles of Olympism and sportsmanship.
Early this week, the POC elections committee, chaired by Atty. Teodoro Kalaw IV, ruled on the petition, deciding to deny the motion “in their entirety for lack of merit” and paving for the elections to take place.
Mr. Tolentino, who was elected president in July last year after erstwhile POC chief Ricky Vargas decided to step down, is seeking a full term of four years, banking on his track record since assuming office.
“Not to sound like self-promoting; despite the short time in office, I think we have done a lot. What more if I’m given a full term of four years?” said Mr. Tolentino, who is also a sitting congressman representing the 8th district of Cavite, when he announced his decision to run in September.
He underscored that he has worked hard in pushing for Philippine sports, including helping the country win the overall championship in the 2019 SEA Games, under his watch as the local Olympic body head.
Mr. Tolentino also played a key role, in his capacity as congressman, for the restoration of the full amount of the allowances of national athletes and coaches, which were slashed by half early this year as funds were channelled to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Tolentino is not denying that because of the elections, the POC has been rendered a divided house, but vowed to work for unity if elected president anew.
“If I win, my first move is to reach out to the NSAs (national sports associations) and unite sports and forget the politics,” said Mr. Tolentino who also assured that the POC under him will be committed to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic push of the country.
Running under Mr. Tolentino’s ticket are Tom Carrasco of triathlon (chairman) Al Panlilio of basketball (first vice president), Mayor Richard Gomez of fencing and modern pentathlon (second vice president), Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics (treasurer), Chito Loyzaga of baseball (auditor), and Pearl Managuelod of muay thai, Dave Carter of judo, Rep. Butch Pichay of chess and Dr. Raul Canlas of surfing as board members.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Mr. Aranas, meanwhile, is seeking the presidency on a platform anchored on “transparency and accountability.”
He said their party will immediately work with NSAs, particularly in making them self-sufficient, if privileged enough to be voted to office.
“While we appreciate the service of the current president, we feel we can improve on it. We feel there are still things that need improvement… we want to go back to the basics of why the POC was built,” said Mr. Aranas.
Adding, “Our program is rooted in transparency and accountability because the POC is the representation of the NSAs to the sporting community here and in the world, and our vision is to be the ambassador of all these NSAs.”
With Mr. Aranas in the party are incumbent chairman Steve Hontiveros (handball), running for the same position, and Philip Ella Juico (athletics) for first vice-president and Ada Milby (rugby) for second vice-president.
Also part of the ticket are Julian Camacho (wushu) for treasurer; Monico Puentevella (weightlifting) for auditor; Charlie Ho (netball), Robert Mananquil (billiards and snooker), and Robert Bachmann (squash) as directors.
An adopted candidate of the group for director is Pearl Managuelod (muay thai). Ms. Managuelod is also part of the ticket of Mr. Tolentino.
The POC elections on Friday are set at the East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Paranaque City. It will be a face-to-face secret balloting exercise with the participants undergoing needed tests for the coronavirus .
There are 54 voters — 51 national sports associations with the three being Athletes Commission representatives Hidilyn Diaz and Jhessie Lacuna and IOC Representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. Ms. Diaz is currently training in Malaysia and is expected to vote remotely. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo