Will POC ever be united?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2020 - 12:00am

Tomorrow, the POC will hold elections to finally end a bitter campaign that has threatened to leave the body sworn to uphold the principles of Olympism in tatters with some candidates turning the process into a combative exercise. The opposing presidential candidates promise a term of solidarity, reconciliation and peace but if the way the campaign was waged is an indication, unity may be a pipe dream with bad blood tainting the road to harmony. Whoever wins has the daunting task of getting everyone together on the same track, selling the idea of working as a team, setting an inspiring example of selfless governance to athletes and standing up for what is legally and morally right. The challenge is for the voters to choose the men and women with the credibility to put the POC house in order once and for all.

The future of Philippine sports is in the voters’ hands. This isn’t about the candidates. This is about the athletes and national pride. Who are the candidates best suited to provide the platform for athletes to excel? Who are the candidates with the credentials to positively influence the lives of athletes, to reach out to world sports leaders in opening doors for athletes to make their dreams come true and to harness the resources of benefactors in giving athletes the breaks to perform on the global stage? One ticket is called Team Performance. The other ticket is called Team Sports.

One ticket tried to disqualify some candidates, questioning their integrity and qualifications. The POC Comelec dismissed the case for lack of merit. The same ticket filed a suit against PHISGOC for the delay in submitting a financial report on the recent SEA Games to the POC, attempting to discredit certain candidates. An invitation was sent by one ticket to the other calling for a public debate but it was ignored, presumably because a confrontation would only lead to more divisiveness. One ticket chose to take the high road in the campaign.

Reelectionist POC president Rep. Bambol Tolentino said in his long career as a public servant, he has never resorted to mud-slinging in any electoral campaign. Referring to the attempt to disqualify, Tolentino said “these allegations are purely to destroy character and reputation, putting anomalous accusation in the eyes and ears of innocent stakeholders…little did they know, they are creating chaos not only inside the POC but also to the naked eye of the public.” Tolentino is anchoring his ticket’s bid on achievements, track record and riding the momentum of the recent SEA Games success. Opposing presidential candidate Atty. Clint Aranas, meanwhile, called on NSAs to rally behind Team Sports. “Our cause is your cause,” he said. “We can achieve greater heights united and only together will we succeed.” His ticket has formulated a first 100-day plan, six additional constitutional amendments, a set-up to align POC with PSC and a proposal for new membership classification criteria.

Candidate for treasurer Cynthia Carrion said it’s beyond her why some candidates are resorting to antagonistic and aggressive tactics just to win. “Why are they fighting and attacking us?” she asked. “We’re supposed to be sports leaders setting an example for athletes. We’re supposed to be friends, not enemies. We’re supposed to be all on the same side, the side of the athletes.” Former gymnastics NSA secretary-general Bettina Pou recently sent a letter to NSAs attesting to Carrion’s ability to get things done, here and abroad. “Caloy Yulo is where he is now because of Cynthia,” said Pou. “Her accolades are long. She was named by the IOC as the Best in Women and Sports for Asia, Ambassador of the Sea by National Geographic, 100 Most Influential Women in the World by the Filipino Women’s Network. She has an MBA from Murdoch University, Australia. Her hard work and passion are well-known to athletes.”

Candidate for board member Dr. Jose Raul Canlas hit the nail on the head when he said “it’s all about the athletes.” He has worked with the IOC community over the last seven Olympics and athletes from all sports have benefited from his expertise, experience and knowledge. In Team Performance are Tom Carrasco for chairman, Tolentino for president, Al Panlilio for first vice president, Richard Gomez for second vice president, Carrion for treasurer, Chito Loyzaga for auditor and Canlas, Pearl Managuelod, Dave Carter and Rep. Butch Pichay for board members. In Team Sports are Steve Hontiveros for chairman, Aranas for president, Philip Juico for first vice president, Ada Milby for second vice president, Julian Camacho for treasurer, Monico Puentevella for auditor and Robert Mananquil, Robert Bachmann, Atty. Charlie Ho and Managuelod for board members.

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