New name, new leaders, new beginning?


THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) General Assembly welcomed on Friday a new national sports association for aquatic sports—the Philippine Aquatics Inc. (PAI).

New name, new leaders. New beginning? “We’re excited to start reforming the aquatics community,” said PAI president Michael Vargas. “We took a hard route to recognition so we’re expecting tougher routes ahead, it’s just the start.”

With Vargas at the PIA helm are secretary-general Rep. Eric Buhain and executive director Chito Rivera.

Buhain’s credentials are a no-brainer—many-time Southeast Asian Games champion, two-time Olympian, a former Philippine Sports Commission and Games and Amusements Board chairman.

He, too, knows how tough the task on their hands is.

“The journey for sure will be tough as we start it, but we will use the recognition given by the World Aquatics and the POC to motivate and inspire us to work harder to bring back the Philippines’ glorious days,” Buhain said.

The first district Congressman of Batangas City also thanked the entire swimming community for trusting them.

It’s tough just by looking at how Philippine swimming performed in the last two SEA Games and the recent Asian Games—in Hanoi last year it was 1-3-3 (gold-silver-bronze), Cambodia last May improved to 2-6-8 and but Filipino winners were flat in Hangzhou just last month.

PAI got the recognition at the East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Parañaque City after the POC Executive Board, headed by president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, unanimously voted on PAI’s recognition when just before the General Assembly.

Tolentino said the Executive Board acted positively on the recommendation of the POC Membership Committee, which received the final and most important criterion for regular membership—recognition from swimming’s international federation World Aquatics (formerly FINA).

“There’s a new NSA [national sports association] that is already recognized by the international federation World Aquatics,” said Tolentino referring to the PAI, whose top officials—president Mico Vargas, secretary-general Rep. Eric Buhain and executive director Chito Rivera—attended the assembly.

Forty-six regular NSA members of the POC ratified PAI’s recognition.

The PAI replaced the Philippine Swimming Inc., forerunner of the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association, which lost its recognition from the IF.

“It’s in the POC constitution that once there is a recognize federation by the IF, we have to recognize that automatically as well,” Tolentino said. “The removal of the PSI is due to the non-recognition of IF. An IF recognition is one crucial requirement for NSAs.”

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