MANILA, Philippines -- Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino is advocating for unity within the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), where he is seeking a fresh four-year term as president.
Tolentino, also the representative of the eighth district of Cavite, said during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum that if re-elected, his first move is to "reach to the NSAs (national sports associations) and unite sports and forget the politics."
Challenging Tolentino for the POC presidency is Clint Aranas, who heads the country's archery NSA. Elections are set for Friday at the East Ocean Restaurant in Pasay City.
Unity within the POC, according to Tolentino, is key to the future of Philippine sports and its goal of winning the elusive gold in the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.
"Let's move on and focus, especially since the Tokyo Olympics is next year and we're aiming for the first gold in the country," said Tolentino.
"This is really coming from my heart," he added. "If we can't unite now, the momentum of our SEAG success (in 2019) will be wasted. The momentum is still there and there is Tokyo. We should focus on that."
Tolentino was elected POC president in July 2019 following the resignation of boxing chief Ricky Vargas. After less than two years in office, he is now seeking a full term.
He said during the weekly forum that he is sincere in his desire for unity within the POC.
"It does not look good right now if we're not united, and we can't agree on simple policies," he pointed out.
There are 54 voting members in the POC, 51 of them NSAs. Tolentino said while a handful may opt to send their sealed ballots through mail, he expects the rest to physically join the exercise.
Strict health protocols will be in place during the elections, including antigen tests for the COVID-19 virus for those who will attend. The POC has prepared 150 test kits.
Running under Tolentino's ticket are Tom Carrasco of triathlon (chairman) Al Panlilio of basketball (first vice president), Mayor Richard Gomez of fencing and modern pentathlon (second vice president), Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics (treasurer), Chito Loyzaga of baseball (auditor), and Pearl Managuelod of muay, Dave Carter of judo, Rep. Butch Pichay of chess and Dr. Raul Canlas of surfing as board members.
"Everything is set. On Friday, we will be choosing the leaders who will rightfully serve the POC," said Tolentino.