With both predicting clear triumphs for themselves, incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino of cycling and challenger Jesus Clint Aranas of archery will leave their fate to the wisdom of the electorate when they dispute the presidency of the powerful sports body on Friday in polls that would hopefully be orderly at East Ocean Palace in Parañaque City.
Representatives from 51 national sports associations (NSAs) will cast their votes along with athletes commission officials Hidilyn Diaz and Jessie Lacuna and International Olympic Committee executive board member Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski in deciding one of the most controversy-laden POC elections in the history of the organization.
“If [winning] is my destiny, my first move is to reach out to all NSAs and unite sports. Let’s forget the politics, let’s move forward and focus especially in the Olympics where we are aiming for the country’s first gold medal,’’ Tolentino said.
As the POC’s top official, he was credited for showing the way that led Team Philippines to the overall title in last year’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games. Tolentino took over from the resigned Ricky Vargas in July last year and is confident he can earn a full term that would end in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Tolentino has triathlon’s Tom Carrasco (chair), basketball’s Al Panlilio (1st vice president), fencing’s Richard Gomez (2nd vice president), Cynthia Carrion-Norton of gymnastics (treasurer) and baseball’s Chito Loyzaga (auditor) as his running mates.
“I think the best guy will win. The competent person will win and I’m sure about it,’’ said Aranas, a lawyer, who claims having the support of at least 30 NSAs.
The magic number in winning is pegged at 28 votes, with Teodoro Kalaw IV acting as election committee chair.
Steve Hontiveros, the incumbent chair, is running for reelection under Aranas, whose team is made up of athletics chief Philip Ella Juico (1st vice president), Ada Milby of rugby (2nd vice president), Julian Camacho of wushu (treasurer) and weightlifting’s Monico Puentevella (auditor).
Meanwhile, despite its suspension from the International Tennis Federation, the Philippine Tennis Association will be allowed to vote as decided by the POC General Assembly in a virtual gathering on Thursday.
Strict health protocols have been set up by the POC election committee, with those who will cast their votes in person required to go through COVID-19 testing as well as officials, POC staff and members of the media.
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