by Nick Giongco
Four Olympic swimmers joined hands yesterday to call the attention of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) amid growing concerns about a Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) national congress that takes place tonight.
Leading the elite group of Olympic athletes who faced a number of reporters was Eric Buhain, a two-time Olympian and former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman.
Buhain said the PSI under Lani Velasco has called for “a National Congress of Philippine Swimming Inc.” at the Manila Yacht Club, a move that could likely morph into an election or the ratification of Velasco’s elections last February.
Buhain, who saw action in the 1988 (Seoul) and 1992 (Barcelona) Olympics, said he and three other personages of the sport – Ral Rosario (1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal), Pinky Brosas (1972) and Akiko Thomson (1988 Seoul, 1992 and 1996) – are deeply alarmed over Velasco’s plans.
“What is needed is a true election. What will happen tomorrow is not important. We will wait for the POC to find merit in what we have done,” said Buhain, stressing that what the POC should do is “to call for an election that will include everyone.”
Buhain’s camp said Velasco did not extend any invitation to Rosario to attend tonight’s affair but will be supported by a cast his faction believes has no personality to take part in the meeting.
For her part, Velasco said in a statement: “We are pushing through with the members meeting tomorrow under the leadership of the validly-elected board of trustees. We look forward to a fruitful meeting followed by a fun-filled Christmas party to celebrate the many achievements in Philippine aquatics this year. We will use this as an opportunity to thank those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly for the betterment of our sport.”