By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino got a fresh mandate as head of the sports body after being reelected on Friday in elections held at the East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Paranaque City.

Looked to serve a full four-year term after assuming office only last year in special elections, Mr. Tolentino, head of the Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines (PhilCycling), got his wish after beating lone challenger Jesus “Clint” Aranas of the archery federation, 30-22.

A total of 53 eligible voters got to cast their votes, broken down to representatives from 50 national sports associations, two representatives from the Athletes Commission (Hidilyn Diaz and Jhessie Lacuna), and International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.

The proceedings were done under strict compliance with health and safety protocols to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Also winning were handball’s Steve Hontiveros, who retained his post as chairman, winning over triathlon’s Tom Carrasco, 28-25; basketball’s Al Panlilio (first vice- president), fencing and modern pentathlon’s Richard Gomez (second vice-president), gymnastics’ Cynthia Carrion-Norton (treasurer), and baseball’s Chito Loyzaga (auditor).

Earning executive board seats, meanwhile, were Raul Canlas of surfing, Pearl Managuelod of muay thai, Charlie Ho of netball, and Dave Carter of judo.

Save for Messrs. Hontiveros and Ho, all of the winners ran under the ticket of Mr. Tolentino, with Ms. Managuelod an adopted candidate as well of Mr. Aranas’ group.

“It’s an honor to serve the Filipino athletes in the country. This is a full four-year team and definitely there will be a lot of surprises. In the one year [I was in office] we did a lot, what more with four years with this team,” said Mr. Tolentino, also a sitting Congressman representing the eighth district of Cavite, in the press conference following his election victory.

He went on to say that a lot of work is ahead of them, especially for next year when a lot of athletes will be competing in various international tournaments, including the rescheduled Olympics.

“We have to focus on the athletes. There are a lot of challenges next year, a lot of big competitions outside. We have a lot of work but with the help of this team starting Jan. 1, [we can do it],” the POC president said.

Mr. Tolentino was first elected president in July last year after erstwhile POC chief Ricky Vargas decided to step down. 

This year’s election was one of the more contentious proceedings in the sports body’s history, with the parties not seeing eye-to-eye on certain issues and took one another to task.

The elections were overseen by members of the electoral board, namely, Atty. Teodoro Kalaw IV (chairman), University of the Philippines president Danilo Concepcion and former IOC representative Frank Elizalde.