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Tolentino announces candidacy for POC president

Nick Giongco

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Incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino will be gunning for a fresh four-year term with a powerhouse ticket in the POC elections on 27 November.

Speaking in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Tolentino declared that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio and Philippine Fencing Association chief Richard Gomez have decided to join forces with him.

Panlilio will run as 1st vice president while Gomez will seek the 2nd vice president post, according to Tolentino, who likewise formally declared his intention to seek a four-year term.

Panlilio’s main backer is tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, who supports various sports like boxing, weightlifting, gymnastics, badminton, football, taekwondo, golf, cycling, skateboarding and a few more.

Tolentino assumed the POC presidency only in July last year to use the unfinished term of boxing boss Ricky Vargas, who was forced to step down.

“My ticket is almost complete,” Tolentino, also a Tagaytay congressman said during the weekly forum backed by San Miguel Corporation, Go For Gold, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, stressing that he will reveal the complete roster next week.

The other elective posts are those of chairman, treasurer, auditor and members of the board while the position of secretary general will be done by appointment.

“I will definitely run for president. I just filled up the gap when Vargas resigned,” Tolentino said. “We are all free to run and aspire for the (POC) presidency.”

Set to challenge Tolentino for the presidency is World Archery Philippines president and renowned tax lawyer Clint Aranas, who enjoys the support of the majority in the POC executive council.

There will be over 50 voting members that will take part in an election that will take place in a soon-to-be-named venue and Tolentino said those attending will have to undergo swab testing in line with government safety protocols.

Former International Olympic Committee representative to the country Frank Elizalde, lawyer Teddy Kalaw and Cong. Eric Martinez, the chairman of the House youth and sports committee, will draft the guidelines after being tapped as members of the elections committee.

They will present the election rules before the general assembly on 30 September while the filing of certificate of candidacy starts on 1 October.

Meanwhile, Tolentino believes athletes from 19 national sports associations are expected to return to training camp not later than November.

“By October, perhaps, we would already be on modified general community quarantine and they will be allowed to train again.”

Tolentino made it clear, though, that only athletes eyeing to compete in Tokyo Olympic qualifying events will be given the green light to train again.

“Let us prioritize those NSAs that are getting ready for the Olympic qualifying (tournaments).”

Tolentino admits that the delay in the decision to revert to training mode was due to “safety concerns.”

The facilities are being used as COVID-19 treatment centers, said Tolentino, referring to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and Philsports in Pasig as prime examples.

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