By Kristel Satumbaga
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will choose between Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Philip Ella Juico as its own president in the Sunday special elections set at Century Park Hotel in Manila.
A total of 46 regular members of the POC, two representatives from the Athletes Commission and International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski will cast their votes at 11 a.m. for the vacated posts of the country’s highest Olympic body.
Tolentino is head of the Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines (Philcycling) while Juico is president of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
Running along Tolentino’s ticket are taekwondo’s Robert Aventajado for the chairmanship post, and gymnastics’ Cynthia Carrion and weightlifting’s Monico Puentevella for the two board member seats.
Juico’s ticket, meanwhile, will be composed of Steve Hontiveros of handball (chairman), and archery’s Clint Aranas and swimming’s Lani Velasco (board of directors).
This will be the second time that the POC will hold and election in less than two years after the resignation of POC officials led by its previous president Ricky Vargas. It also marks the third time in the Olympic cycle — the first in November 2016 that saw Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. keeping his post and in February 2018 that ousted Cojuangco and installed Vargas.
Tolentino, who also represents the eighth district of Cavite in the Lower Hourse, was actually POC chairman under Vargas’ term but decided to resign to run for presidency.
Tolentino emphasized on the sensibility of the elections that would chart the course of the POC.
“I’m calling on my fellow (National Sports Association) heads to prioritize the POC’s future when they cast their votes,” said Tolentino. “The POC is an institution that needs protection.”
“I will wield a broom,” added Tolentino, referring to sweeping away the political mess that shrouds the POC.
Juico, a former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman, meanwhile, stressed in creating a “dynamic Team Philippines that, in accordance with good governance principles, recognizes the authority of the structures within the POC.”
“My immediate goal is to help ensure the success of the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games by working closely with the government through the POSC,” said Juico.
A committee composed of lawyer Teddy Kalaw, Letran athletic director Fr. Vic Calvo and Party-List Rep. Conrado Estrella will oversee the elections while a representative from the IOC will observe and safeguard the proceedings.
The election was initially scheduled July 5 but was pushed to a latter date to comply with IOC’s request for clarifications through a general assembly.
The general assembly was held last week were it discussed the composition of the election committee as well as the status of the voting members.