'Time to work': New POC president Tolentino focuses on 2019 SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – After finally getting the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) elections over with, newly elected president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino is now shifting his attention to the Philippines' hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. 

"SEA Games, doon talaga ang focus natin. Hindi naman tayo humihiwalay pa. Talagang, we have to focus on that. It's barely how many months to go. Hindi po tayo nawawala sa direksyon, with PHISGOC, PSC, and for SEA Games, Para Games, then Olympics," said Tolentino after he edged out Philip Ella Juico, 24-20, for the POC president post on Sunday, July 28, at the Century Park Hotel. 

"Trabaho na 'to. We are here."

(Our focus is really on the SEA Games. We're not veering away from it. It's barely how many months to go. We're not losing direction with Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee and Philippine Sports Commission for the SEA Games, Para Games, then Olympics. We have to get to work. We are here.)

But the PhilCycling chief's first order of business is to formally restore Patrick Gregorio as the POC secretary-general and appoint Ormoc City mayor and Philippine Fencing Association president Richard Gomez as deputy secretary-general. 

"The first order of business is to get rid of [Robert] Bachmann and Charlie Ho," said Tolentino.

When Tolentino still held the POC chairman post, he questioned the move of acting president Joey Romasanta to appoint Ho and Bachmann as secretary-general and deputy secretary-general, respectively, even though Gregorio had not resigned.

The confusion intensified when both Ho and Gregorio sent out separate notices to the POC executive board about the scheduled July 8 special meeting mandated by the International Olympic Committee.

Tolentino, the representative of the 7th District of Cavite, will also appoint Muay federation president Lucas Managuelod as POC membership committee head.

Meanwhile, Juico accepted the result as the elections went in order. This will allow the athletics federation president to focus more on the national team's preparations for the SEA Games. 

"So now I can go back to focus on track and field, and hope to be a major contributor to our gold medal output," said the 71-year-old chief of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association. (New target: Beef up athletics, aquatics for 2019 SEA Games)

"Actually, that is the more important goal, in the sense that we as a country have to perform well."

The 30th SEA Games is set for November 30 to December 11. – Rappler.com

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.