Group finally gets POC recognition
MANILA, Philippines – In what was dubbed as the “unified cycling elections,” Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino earned a fresh four-year term as president of PhilCycling as the federation finally earned recognition from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Witnessing the poll observed by Asian Cycling Confederation secretary general Choi Boo Wong are POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. and spokesman Joey Romasanta.
Bert Lina of Air21 was elected as chairman, while former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Philip Ella Juico was chosen as vice president.
After being elected, Lina immediately pledged P0.5 million as seed money for the “new” PhilCycling.
The local cycling community was divided over leadership conflict prior the elections.
Juico is the recognized PhilCycling president by the POC, while Tolentino is recognized by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for the sport.
The strife led to the unfortunate incident in the 2009 Southeast Asian Games when the POC cancelled the Philippine team’s participation because the athletes, except for Maritess Bitbit, did not have UCI licenses.
UCI chief visiting PH
Meanwhile, UCI president Pat McQuaid expressed optimism over the direction Philippine cycling following the election.
“Hopefully now PhilCycling will move forward in a professional way and we will see cyclists getting international results,” said McQuaid.
“The ground is now there for a visit by UCI president within the next year,” said McQuaid, who as road commission chairman of the UCI, was responsible for the international Marlboro Tour editions from 1996 to 1998.
Also elected to the board with Tolentino, Lina and Juico were holdovers Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez, Modesto Bonzo, Paquito Rivas, Carlos Gredonia, Juancho Ramores, Lorenzo “Jun” Lomibao Jr. and Pablito “Bong” Sual.
New additions to the 15-man board were former Commission on Elections commissioner Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal, Ric Rodriquez, Atty. Jesus Aranas, Atty. Froilan Dayco and Cornelio Baylon. Named secretary general was Atty. Avelino Sumague.
“This is a great starting point for Philippine cycling,” said Tolentino. “Forgive and forget na. Let us now move on at ibabangon uli namin ang cycling.”
Cojuangco hailed the elections after Philippine cycling was kept in the dark for four years.
“We have to thank the leaders of the association for leading the unification. Sayang ang sport na ito because this is one sport where we can excel. Under the new leadership, I know we can go a long way,” said Cojuangco.
Perhaps because of the heavy downpour on Tuesday, only 96 heads of the combined 240 member clubs of the federation attended the elections.
Tolentino was elected president in a UCI-supervised elections in January 2009, this was questioned by breakaway groups in the cycling community.
The breakaway group, however, elected its own president four times, the last being Juico.