Moment of truth in POC today

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    DESPITE separate issues hounding them, the Philippine Tennis Association and Philippine Badminton Association will be allowed to vote during the Philippine Olympic Committee polls today at the East Ocean Restaurant in Paranaque.

    In an online POC general assembly meeting with virtually all the 54 regular voting members represented, it was decided by the local Olympic body that PHILTA could vote despite its suspension by the International Tennis Federation over the weekend.

    International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski had mentioned the suspension of PHILTA, led by Atty. Antonio Cablitas, by the International Tennis Federation over the weekend during the meeting. But POC secretary general Atty. Ed Gastanes said they still had not received any communication regarding the ITF action.

    Gastanes pointed out that PHILTA has not been expelled from the POC so it could still cast its vote in the polls where incumbent POC president and Rep. Bambol Tolentino is being challenged by archery chief Atty. Clint Aranas.

    The more contentious issue was who would vote for the PBA after former vice president Jojo Binay wrote the POC secretariat last Monday claiming he remains the president of the NSA and “will physically appear in the venue” and cast his vote.

    PBA secretary general Epok Quimpo, who also joined the meeting, maintained that former Negros Occidental congressman Albee Benitez is the legitimate PBA president based on the NSA’s current Securities and Exchange registration while Binay is the “vice president.”

    Gastanes said he had released the voters’ list last Nov. 10 based on the general information sheet furnished by the PBA in Feb. 2019.

    Squash head Robert Bachmann had questioned the validity of the voters’ list since it was released without the scrutiny and approval of the POC Executive Board as had been done in previous POC elections.

    In the end, the body said the PBA should settle the issue “internally” although POC chairman Steve Hontiveros, a former POC secretary general, warned that if neither party could agree “then none of them might be able to vote.”

    Binay had earlier written golf secretary general Bones Floro, POC membership commission chairman, last Nov. 11, asserting that “I was elected President of the Philippine Badminton Association…organized under existing laws and duly recognized as a regular member of the Philippine Olympic Committee.”

    The former vice president also claimed he was never notified “of any election of officers of the PBA in 2017 and 2018 to the present.”

    Floro and Gastanes, who came into office after Tolentino was elected as POC president, said they were not aware of records of the election of Benitez as PBA president so relied on the GIS given by the PBA in determining the voters’ list.

    Hontiveros, who served as POC secretary general for 14 years under former POC chief Jose Cojuangco Jr., said this issue could have been resolved if there had been a POC observer when Benitez was elected.

    This had been a regular POC requirement approved by the general assembly in validating the polls of NSAs, Hontiveros explained.

    “This has been our rules since I was secretary general so we could resolve issues like this,” stressed Hontiveros, who was inclined to recognize Binay as the representative to cast the vote for the NSA.

    Chess chief Rep. Prospero Pichay, who is running as a POC board member on the ticket of Tolentino, motioned that the body approve the recommendation of Hontiveros. This led to the compromise decision of the general assembly for the PBA to solve the leadership issue internally.