MANILA, Philippines -- Incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino on Tuesday hit out at the "unsportsmanlike, foul, malicious and below-the-belt" tactics of his opponents in the upcoming POC elections.
Tolentino, who is also the representative of the eighth district of Cavite, is seeking a full four-year term as POC president after taking over the post in August 2019 upon the resignation of Ricky Vargas.
Opposing him is Jesus "Clint" Aranas, the head of World Archery Philippines.
Last week, Aranas and his party filed for the disqualification of Tolentino and his group from the POC elections, including Tom Carrasco (triathlon), Cynthia Carrion (gymnastics) and Dr. Raul Canlas (surfing) and Dave Carter (judo).
In a letter addressed to his fellow POC members on Tuesday, Tolentino said he was surprised that Aranas and his party "are now resorting to ungentlemanly tactics just to win the POC elections."
"I consider these actions as unsportsmanlike, foul, malicious and below-the-belt," he added.
Aranas alleged that Tolentino and the members of his party are not eligible to run for their posts in the POC on several fronts.
Tolentino and Carrion allegedly received allowances from the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) during the 30th Southeast Asian Games hosted by the country last year.
Canlas, meanwhile, is allegedly not qualified to run as he did not meet the required number of years as either president, vice-president, or secretary-general of his national sports association (NSA).
Carter's federation, meanwhile, is allegedly still suspended by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Aranas' claim was received by the POC election committee last Friday.
In his letter, Tolentino pointed out that there are questions hanging over the NSAs who support Aranas as well, as some of them are potentially ineligible to vote on November 27. However, he opted to give everyone the chance to exercise their right to vote in the POC elections.
"I have gone over the different NSAs, and found some of them to have questionable qualifications to run in any position for this election," Tolentino revealed.
He added that he was advised to file his own protest and have those NSAs declared "non-qualified." "However, I decided not to do that because I would like all the NSAs to be heard and be duly represented to cast their votes," Tolentino added.
With this in mind, Tolentino said he is "pleading for my opponents to be prudent to preserve the spirit of Olympism and sportsmanship."
"Let us all deal with qualifications only," he added. "Lawyers, please act like lawyers and stick to the issues. You need not draft your papers that will induce your client to magnify matters that are out of the issue at hand."
Read Tolentino's full letter here:
Tolentino added that he is putting his trust in the POC election committee, which is set to discuss the disqualification cases this week.
The election committee is chaired by Atty. Teodoro Kalaw IV, with former International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde and University of the Philippines president Danilo Concepcion as members.
There are 54 voters in the POC elections — 51 NSAs, Athletes Commission representatives Hidilyn Diaz and Jhessie Lacuna, and IOC representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.