International Olympic Committee enters picture

July 03, 2019

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday issued a quick rebuke of resigned Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino’s call for an election on a date not later than July 18, 2019 and placed the resolution of the Council’s leadership vacuum at the hands of the POC Board and later, its General Assembly.

A two-page letter dated July 2, signed by IOC director for Olympic Solidarity and National Olympic Committee (NOC) Relations James Macleod and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Hussain al-Musallam recognized the resignation of Victorico Vargas as POC president and Tolentino as chairman.

They also took notice of the resignation of board members Clint Aranas and Cynthia Carreon.

Macleod and al-Musallam then instructed the POC to “follow due process to avoid any further challenges and hold free and fair elections for (the) vacant positions.”

The IOC and the OCA said the process should start with the POC executive council convening within five days to review the IOC directives.

Then, it should create an independent elections commission before an extraordinary General Assembly is called within 10 days.

If these are followed, the POC will hold a special board meeting on July 8, with the first extraordinary general assembly to be set on July 18.

This will also nullify the elections commission earlier formed by Tolentino. It was supposedly to be manned by former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, jiu-jitsu secretary general Ferdie Agustin and POC general counsel Alberto Agra.

The spate of resignations by the top POC officials was spurred by questions raised by the POC board against the eligibility of the Phisgoc Foundation led by Taguig Cong. Alan Peter Cayetano.

The Phisgoc Foundation, which entered into private contracts including those for the athletes’ uniforms later found to be overpriced, was incorporated by Vargas and his staff, along with those of Cayetano, which the POC board claimed has superceded the existence of the original Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee— or simply Phisgoc— to which Cayetano was appointed to act as chairman by former POC President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.

Vargas was the first to resign when he faced the POC board on June 18, followed by Tolentino this week. Tolentino, however, had earlier called for elections on July 5 or on a date not later than July 18.

But the IOC and the OCA will send representatives to ensure the orderly conduct of both the elections and the extraordinary general assembly meetings.

But Tolentino, a Tagaytay congressman and cycling association chief who is eyeing the POC presidency against Aranas, said there is an urgent need to fill out the four key positions.

But the IOC and OCA countered that holding these elections will not an easy process.

“We all agree that these issues must be addressed and resolved quickly, but not in a hurry as due process still has to be followed,” Macleod and Al-Musallam said in a joint statement.

“It must be noted that that the POC has had many opportunities to resolve these issues internally and peacefully, however, has not managed to do so until now. Under these circumstances, the IOC and OCA have the duty to offer guidance and assistance to resolve the situation in the interest of the Olympic movement.”