Al Panlilio vows MVP group's continued support to PH athletes despite POC poll setback
At the end of the day, it's not about personalities but about the welfare of Filipino athletes, says SBP president Al Panlilio. Jerome Ascano

THE camp of disqualified presidential candidate Ricky Vargas maintained it will continue to support Philippine sports despite its failure to win a single position in the Philippine Olympic Committee during Friday's elections.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio reiterated the commitment of the Manny V. Pangilinan group for sports even with the landslide victory of the rival camp headed by Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, who won his fourth term as POC president.

Vargas was disqualified from running against Cojuangco for POC president, and his motion for a Temporary Restraining Order on the POC polls was denied by a Pasig court on Thursday.

Rep. Albie Benitez of badminton, Lucas Managuelod of muay, and Sonny Barrios of basketball - all Vargas allies - were unsuccessful in their bid for the first vice president, second vice president, and treasurer positions, respectively.

“We are committed to Philippine sports,” said Panlilio. “I think it’s not about personalities but the commitment of the group to support Filipino athletes. Even as head of the MVP Sports Foundation, we identified nine sports that we will be directly supporting.”

[See Cojuangco wins fourth term as POC president; party sweeps elections]

Incidentally, Vargas was absent from the POC elections as boxing was one of six national sports associations (NSA) that didn't participate in the elections.

After winning his fourth term as POC president, Cojuangco called for reconciliation after a controversial lead-up to the election of the national Olympic body.

Panlilio supports Cojuangco’s call for unity.

“That’s the only way,” Panlilio said. “I was hoping it was done much earlier than now," said Panlilio, obviously pertaining to a diolague called by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez which the camp of Cojuangco snubbed.

"There were initiatives to bring parties together but not all parties were there. But that’s (reconciliation is) the only way to go forward."

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At the end of the day, it’s all about the athletes, Panlilio said.

“Philippine sports is much bigger than any individual. We have to think about the athletes. Ano ba ang kailangan nila? That’s the bigger cause. Marami ang kailangan nila, from training, exposure, to facilities. That’s the only way we can compete globally,” Panlilio said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports