POC constitution remains; politics got in way of ‘reforms,’ says PH Olympic body chief

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Jul 24 2020 05:42 PM

POC president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, fblanked by POC chairman Steve Hontiveros (left) and POC board member Cynthia Carrion at the POC elections in July 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

Status quo.

This is what transpired on Friday despite the marathon five-hour session of the Philippine Olympic Committee executive board over the amendments to the POC constitution and by-laws, including the plan to exclude candidates 70 years old and above to run in POC polls set in November. 

“I appealed to all to act as one and not as protagonists in a political encounter. Unfortunately, reforms were blocked using the tyranny of numbers. Dating gawi tayo,” POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said in a statement.

“Since we could not come to an agreement, the (POC) constitution stays as is.”

Describing them as “the group of 7,” Tolentino said “most of the board members decided to draw political lines.”

The POC chief was alluding to POC chairman Steve Hontiveros, first vice-president Joey Romasanta, second vice-president Jeff Tamayo, treasurer Julian Camacho, auditor Jonne Go, and board members Robert Mananquil of billiards and snooker, and Atty. Clint Aranas of archery.

Also present were POC secretary general Atty. Edwin Gastanes, board members Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics, Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. of chess and boxing chief Ricky Vargas, head of the POC committee on constitutional amendments, who are all identified with the Tolentino camp.

As an immediate past POC president, Vargas was present during the meeting as an ex-officio board member, based on the POC charter. 

Only Tamayo of the soft tennis national federation was absent during the meeting of the 12-person board. 

The approved amendments to the POC constitution and by-laws were to be reviewed and approved by the International Olympic Committee, and were expected to be enforced during the POC general election scheduled in the last week of November.

This was stressed by newly elected IOC executive board member Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworki, also a POC board member and was present during the meeting. 

Mananquil, the Billiards and Snooker Confederation of the Philippines secretary general, took exception to the POC president’s insinuations.

According to Mananquil, “it was Tolentino who went behind the board’s back in sending proposed amendments to the POC charter to the International Olympic Committee without consultation.

“I sent a letter to POC secretary-general Atty. Ed Gastantes on the matter last May and until now it has not been properly replied. We only learned of the amendments three days before our board meeting last Monday,” Mananquil said.

The BSCP official said it was Tolentino himself who called for the meeting’s adjournment when it appeared that his proposed amendments, among them the 70-year-old age cap, would not be approved during the meeting.

A two-thirds vote of the members present during the deliberations is required for the amendments to pass.

Mananquil said it was Cojuangco-Jaworski who suggested during the session “to set an age cap because it was already being done by the IOC Executive Board, but not necessarily the 70 and above being pushed by Tolentino and his colleagues.”

He said that they seemed to have arrived at a compromise over the setting the age limit for candidates at 80, “but even this did not get the two-third majority required to pass.”

However, Mananquil said that there were some minor amendments that were approved by the board.

Among those passed was barring individuals to be presidents in more than one national sports association, and the retention of an NSA as regular member in the event that its sport is dropped from the Southeast Asian Games, he said. 

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