Top tennis patrons withdraw support for Philta in fallout to Andrada refusal to step down
Cebu ana Lhuilier CEO Jean Henri Lhuilier, right, and Palawan Pawnshop counterpart Bobby Castro have withdrawn their support to Philta following Buddy Andrada's decision to stay on as president.

CEBUANA Lhuillier and Palawan Pawnshop, rivals in the pawnshop industry and two of the biggest supporters of tennis in the country, have pulled out its support for the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) in the fallout to the controversial elections last week.

Cebuana Lhuillier chief executive officer Jean Henri Lhuillier and Palawan Pawnshop CEO Bobby Castro issued a joint statement on Monday withdrawing their support to Philta following a contentious election that saw Salvador ‘Buddy’ Andrada remain as president following a change of heart.

Philta secretary general Romeo Magat was also elected vice president by a seven-man board after Lhuillier and his bloc walked out of the proceedings.

“We can no longer give support to an association we feel is mismanaged by two people (Andrada and  Magat) who have not shown any platform and programs for the past many years,” Lhuillier said. 

Andrada returned to the post he held from 1986 to 2006 last July after Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez stepped down. After announcing his plan to step down during a board meeting, the 80-year-old Andrada changed his mind and stayed on as president.

The move led to a walkout by Lhuillier and three other board members - vice president Randy Villanueva, former Philta president Julito Villanueva, and Gerard Maronilla.

“We feel that Philta, under the leadership of Mr. Andrada and Mr. Magat, have been grossly remiss in its mission of advancing the sport of tennis in the Philippines. We believe that for Philippine tennis to advance, we need fresh ideas and new leadership,” said Castro.

[See Walkout wars Philta election after Andrada reconsiders decision to step down]

The two companies have been supporting tennis for years, with Cebuana Lhuillier sponsoring the Davis Cup team and holding age-group tournaments.

Palawan Pawnshop also has its own long-running age-group tournaments across the country.

Lhuillier and Castro made it clear that the age-group tennis competitions which they are sponsoring will remain but will no longer be held under the auspices of Philta. Instead, they will have their own “unified ranking system” based on those tournaments.

“We are only pulling out our support to the association but not to the development of tennis in the Philippines. We will continue our thrust of developing fresh talents through our age group tennis circuit and we are upholding our support to our national team and professional athletes like Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzales, Francis Casey Alcantara and Katharina Lehnert,” said Lhuillier.

The pullout of Lhuillier and Castro is just “the first of what is expected to be a series of protest actions by different tennis stakeholders,” the statement said.

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