MANILA, Philippines -- Ian Laurel, the president of the Philippine Superliga (PSL), is the best person to take charge of the country's sports association for volleyball.
This, according to PSL Chairman Philip Ella "Popoy" Juico, who vouched for Laurel during an appearance on "Power and Play" even though he has yet to formally announce his candidacy.
[EMBED ON 'Power and Play': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xRMPRiTIwo&t=2503s&ab_channel=NoliEala]
"If elections will be held, definitely Dr. Ian Laurel will run for president," said Juico, who is also the chief of the country's track and field association aside from holding his post in the PSL.
"He is the most prepared, he is an honest person, he has integrity, he has no hidden agenda, he has no personal interest in this. Former volleyball player, he has moved always for the unity of volleyball, of the volleyball community," he added.
Juico's endorsement came on the heels of Laurel's call for unity within the volleyball community, as the sport braces for its elections.
FIVB, the world governing body for the sport, requested the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to oversee the elections of officials for volleyball's national sports association (NSA) in the Philippines. This, as the organization does not fully recognize either the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) or the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) as an office NSA.
Reportedly, former PSL President Ramon "Tats" Suzara has formed a coalition with Ricky Palou, Tony Boy Liao and Charo Soriano ahead of the elections. Palou and Liao are affiliated with rival Premier Volleyball League, and Soriano is the founder of the Beach Volleyball Republic.
In 2018, the PSL filed a complaint of "qualified theft" against Suzara for "irregular and unauthorized disbursements of company funds." Suzara also served as the chief operating officer of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), which has come under fire for its failure to promptly submit financial statements following the SEA Games.
Laurel, in an open letter to volleyball stakeholders last Friday, expressed his hope that they "can put our personal interests aside and put the interest of Philippine volleyball above our egos and personal gains."
Following the report that Suzara had formed a group with PVL stakeholders, Laurel also said: "Now is NOT the time to draw out party lines and divide the volleyball community even deeper."
"In fact, this is the time to break down the walls that divide us for the greater good of the sport we all love. Let us work together to prevent another era of divisiveness," he said.
The POC scheduled the elections of the volleyball association either on the third or fourth week of January. This is to ensure that the results can be presented at the FIVB World Congress, set for February 5-7.
While he is not convinced that there is a need for volleyball elections to be held, Juico stressed his support for Laurel.
"We don't know why we have to hold elections at this time, when we have a pandemic, there are so many issues to be resolved," he explained. "I don't know, maybe some parties have a hidden agenda. Bakit naman kailangan pa ng ganito."
"But… Dr. Laurel will be there, and other people in the PSL who should be there will be there."