by Kristel Satumbaga
One issue has already been cleared, and hopefully another will be settled today as the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) family decides to elect who will succeed resigned president Ricky Vargas of boxing.
Contesting the presidency are two veteran officials – Philip “Popoy” Juico of athletics and Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino of cycling.
The venue of what could be another heated election is the Century Park Hotel in Manila which is a stone’s throw away from the vast Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
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.
Apart from being the cycling head, the sportsman-politician is also the secretary-general of the chess federation.
And Tolentino said: “Let’s wait for the last lap once and for all and maybe, there will be a checkmate.”
During the so-called “Unity Meeting” at Malacañang on Wednesday, the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee was cleared of alleged corruption and will continue to help the POC and Philippine Sports Commission prepare and host the coming biennial meet.
But on a serious note, Tolentino emphasized on the sensibility of the elections — the third in this Olympic cycle, that would chart the course of the POC at least in the next half generation.
“I am calling on my fellow NSA heads to prioritize the POC’s future when they cast their votes,” he said. “The POC is an institution that needs protection.”
Tolentino is 55 while Juico turns 72 in December when the Philippines hosts the 30th SEA Games.
“I will wield a broom,” added Tolentino, referring to sweeping away the political mess that shrouds the POC.
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 an election in less than two years.
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.
Juico, a former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman, said he will establish “adynamic 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 POC,” said Juico.