Tolentino confident of POC re-election: 'NSA officials' eyes are now open'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2020 01:43 PM

Tolentino confident of POC re-election: 'NSA officials' eyes are now open' 1
Incumbent POC President Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino. File photo. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, the incumbent president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), is confident of his chances at re-election as he touted his achievements during his brief stint at the helm of the organization.

Tolentino took over the POC leadership after winning in a special election in July 2019, after former president Ricky Vargas resigned. 

He is now eyeing a fresh four-year term, which will install him as the president of the POC until the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Running against Tolentino is Atty. Clint Aranas, who heads the country's archery association.

During an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning, Tolentino expressed confidence in his chances at winning.

"Alam mo, grumaduate ako ng three terms na konsehal eh, at saka grumaduate din ako ng three terms na mayor. Tapos ngayon pa-graduate na ako ng three terms na congressman," said Tolentino, who heads the country's cycling association and is the representative of the eighth district of Cavite as well.

"Halos lahat ng pulitiko, kaya tumatakbo, sabi nila mananalo eh. Hindi nila iniisip 'yung matatalo," he pointed out. "Kasi bakit pa sila tatakbo kung ganoon, 'di ba? Well, that's a saying sa ano ng mga politicians, kaya tumatakbo, alam nilang mananalo eh."

Tolentino, 56, is taking on the same mindset ahead of the POC elections, scheduled for Friday afternoon at the East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Parañaque City.

There are 54 voters in the POC elections -- the 51 national sports associations (NSAs), Athletes Commission representatives Hidilyn Diaz and Jhessie Lacuna, and IOC representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.

"Hopefully, God-willing, NSA officials will, their eyes are now open and they know really who can best lead the sports community, the POC," said Tolentino.

The run-up to the elections has been combative, with Aranas' group filing a disqualification case against Tolentino and his slate with the POC Election Committee. Their complaints were dismissed on Saturday for lack of merit.

Tolentino said he has been checking up on the voters, particularly the head of the NSAs, to advocate not just for himself but his entire slate. Completing his group are: Tom Carrasco as chairman, Al Panlilio as first vice president, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez as second vice president, Cynthia Carrion as treasurer, Chito Loyzaga as auditor and Pearl Managuelod, Dave Carter, Rep. Butch Pichay and Dr. Jose Raul Canlas as board members.

"Nangungumusta na sana, as a team, dalhin kami lahat. Mas magandang mag-govern kung complete team," he said. "And of course, nakita naman nila 'yung performance natin. In a short stint… hindi naman natin pinabayaan ang national athletes, coaches, and lalo na ang ating bansa."

Tolentino pointed to the Philippines' dominance of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, where the Filipino athletes delivered a record 149 gold medals to propel the country to the overall championship for the first time in 14 years.

He also noted that through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, he came to the aid of Filipino athletes by including P180-million funding for sports that reverted allowances of national athletes and coaches back to 100%. The allowances of national team members were slashed in half due to the pandemic as the Philippine Sports Commission struggled with lack of funding. 

Recently, Tolentino also personally lobbied senators to include in the national budget additional funding for the PSC, as Filipino athletes are gearing up for a big 2021. Aside from the Tokyo Olympics, the Philippines will compete in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, the Asian Youth Games, and the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam.

"Maliit man ang naitulong natin, small acts sa national athletes at saka sa coaches, lalong-lalo na 'yun pong Bayanihan Act 2, saka 'yung free bikes, small matters but it helps a lot, I think," said Tolentino. 

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