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Bambol Tolentino re-elected POC president, beats Clint Aranas 30-22

PASAY CITY, PHILIPPINES - November 27, 2020. POC Presidential contenders Clint Arañas and Bambol Tolentino face off before the election of the Philippine Olympic Committee held at East Ocean Palace. Ernie Sarmiento/ESPN5

Incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino was re-elected to a fresh four-year term after the conclusion of the body's general elections on Friday at the East Ocean Palace restaurant in Parañaque.

Tolentino, who represented cycling and chess in the voting process, handily defeated opponent Atty. Jesus Clint Aranas of archery, 30-22. His new term will last until Dec. 31, 2024.

Aranas' running mate, incumbent chairman Steve Hontiveros of handball, retained his position after beating Tom Carrasco of triathlon, 28-25.

Basketball's Al Panlilio and Richard Gomez of fencing and modern pentathlon were elected First and Second Vice President, respectively. They defeated Philip Ella Juico of athletics, 30-23, and Ada Milby of Rugby, 31-22.

On the other hand, Cynthia Carrion-Norton of gymnastics was elected treasurer, defeating Julian Camacho, 27-22. Chito Loyzaga of baseball was voted auditor, winning over Monico Puentevella of weightlifting in a close battle, 27-24.

For the four-person executive board, Dr. Raul Canlas of surfing, Pearl Managuelod of Muay Thai, Atty. Charlie Ho of netball, and Dave Carter of judo were elected, claiming 36, 31, 28, and 27 votes, respectively.

A total of 53 votes were cast, which was divided into 50 national sporting associations, two Athletes' Commission representatives, and the Philippine representative to the International Olympic Committee Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. A winning candidate needed a majority of 27 votes in order to be elected.

Three votes were cast electronically, namely from Hidilyn Diaz of the Athlete's Commission, the Philippine Football Federation, and the Philippine Skating Union. The Philippine Table Tennis Federation was unable to cast their vote, while the Philippine Badminton Association (PBA) initially had an impasse in their selection for elector.

Secretary-General Christopher Quimpo from the faction of Rep. Alfredo Benitez, and former Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay both appeared, but the PBA had decided in a resolution on Thursday that Quimpo should be the one to vote.

Now armed with a fresh mandate, Tolentino aims to continue momentum for the national teams heading to a very busy 2021. The country will be participating in several major sporting events such as the postponed Tokyo Olympics, the 31st Southeast Asian Games, Asian Youth Games, and the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games.

He revealed that he lobbied in the Senate through his brother, Sen. Francis Tolentino, to appropriate about P900 million in funds for the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in next year's national budget in order to bolster training of the country's national athletes.

"The PSC had zero budget for next year's activities. After their final reading [on Thursday], aside from the House version, we were able to add. It covers all activities next year," said Tolentino.

Held under strict protocol

With the government edict banning mass gatherings still in effect, the POC was able to secure approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, Dept. of Health and the Parañaque city government to hold the election.

In order to adhere to this, the POC instituted free antigen swab testing for all attendees, which numbered around 150 individuals. A person had to test negative in order to secure a pass to the second-floor function hall, where the elections were held. In the event a person tested positive, he or she would have been placed in the designated isolation area.

The voting itself was also a display of strict implementation, as Skating's ballot almost got nullified due to their inability to properly seal their ballot. On the third attempt, Election Committee chairman Atty. Teodoro Kalaw IV gave his approval and logged the ballot for counting.