SPORTS patron Michael Vargas was elected president and two-time Olympian and champion athlete turned public servant Rep. Eric Buhain was named secretary-general in the Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI) elections on Thursday at the East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Parañaque City.
Also elected in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC)-supervised process were vice president Jessi Arriola, treasurer Marie Dimanche and members of the board of trustees Cris Bancal, Angelica Leonardo, Roel Rosales, Ronald Talosig, Isagani Corpuz, Jessie Lacuna and Emmanuel Manialung.
The elections were conducted on orders of the World Aquatics, the sport’s world governing body. POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino administered the oath of office to Vargas, Buhain and co. after the elections.
All officers and members of the board of trustees will serve in a transition period until regular elections under PSI’s charter are held in 2025.
Vargas is a long-time supporter of Philippine swimming. He is the son of former POC and boxing association chairman Ricky Vargas, who also chairs the Philippine Basketball Association.
“We are looking forward to a unifying, inclusive and working organization,” Vargas said. “We have to help each other out for our swimmers and coaches.”
Buhain is one of the country’s most successful swimmers who transitioned from sports to government—he was former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission and Games and Amusements Board—and now politics—he’s a congressman from the First District of Batangas.
“I’m thankful to everyone after being elected as secretary-general. I really want to help the daily operation of the association,” said Buhain, who heads the Congress of Philippine Aquatics Inc. “Mico Vargas is a long-time friend and a supporter. I know he can help the community.”
“Our problem has been reduced. We’re very happy—very democratic—everything went through the process,” Tolentino said. “Very well represented and we really saw the essence of inclusivity in this exercise.”
The POC Electoral Commttee chaired by POC secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes with POC legal counsel Atty. Wharton Chan, Atty. Marcus Andaya and Atty. Avelino Sumangui supervised the elections which were witnessed by World Aquatics representative Mae Chen of Malaysia.
The Stabilization Committee tasked by World Aquatics and created by the POC to supervise the PSI, according to Tolentino, will now turn over the handling of the national sports association to the new officers.