Tolentino confident of securing new term

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    PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee President and Rep. Bambol Tolentino yesterday said that basketball chief Al Panlilio and former national athlete Richard Gomez, who heads two National Sports Associations, are among his running mates in the POC polls set Nov. 27.

    “My first vice president will be Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio while Richard Gomez will be my second vice president,” Tolentino announced yesterday during the online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum.

    Panlilio is allied with former POC president and boxing head Ricky Vargas while Gomez, also the mayor of Ormoc City, heads both the Philippine Fencing Association and the Philippine Modern Pentathlon Association, which recently gained POC regular membership status.

    Tolentino expressed confidence of securing a fresh mandate in the public sports program supported by San Miguel Corp., Smart, Brasca Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, Go for Gold, Milo and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

    He is pitted against World Archery Philippines president Atty. Clint Aranas, a member of the POC Executive Board who announced his candidacy last week.

    They are expected to file their candidacies once the election period begins in October.

    “We might even get more votes than the last time,” added the Tagaytay congressman and PhilCycling president, who beat athletics head Philip Ella Juico 24-20 on July 28, 2019 to serve the remaining term of Vargas, who stepped down, citing personal and business reasons.

    Among the other NSAs expected to support Tolentino’s reelection bid are bridge, surfing, kurash, jiu-jitsu and sambo, which were formally approved as regular members in a general assembly meeting last December at the Conrad Hotel shortly after the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

    Their recognition raised the list of regular NSA members from 43 to 49 and entitled them to cast votes in the November polls, which will be held in person and possibly at a huge ballroom to accommodate everyone, according to Tolentino.

    He added that Atty. Teodoro Kalaw III and Rep. Eric Martinez, chairman of the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development, have accepted their appointments as members of the POC electoral committee.

    “I am still waiting word if Frank Elizalde (the former International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines) has also accepted his invitation to join the electoral committee. But I believe he will accept,” Tolentino said.

    He said the polls will be conducted under the present POC constitution and by-laws “lest we be accused and blamed for being self-serving,” referring to the proposed amendments of setting an age limit to the candidates running as well as the composition of the POC board.

    In seeking a fresh four-year mandate, Tolentino said there are some unfinished business that he wants to pursue to help the local Olympic body, the NSAs and their respective athletes.

    He said the success of the national campaigners who recaptured the overall championship in the last SEA Games will be a big help in his bid to gain support among the NSAs.

    “We crafted the number of sports and events in the last SEA Games that enabled us to become No. 1 again even before I was POC president,” Tolentino noted of the country’s rich harvest of 149 gold, 117 silver and 137 bronze medals.

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