Puentevella slams POC, bats for PH sports harmony
Peace in the Philippine sports landscape and autonomy of all national sports associations (NSA) just found a voice in weightlifting president Monico Puentevella.
“Let him who has no sin cast the first stone,” Puentevella wrote in a statement sent to media outlets on New Year’s Eve as he batted for harmony amid the growing divisiveness caused by the rift between the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) and its president, Popoy Juico, and its star athlete, pole vault ace EJ Obiena.
This after the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executive board approved the recommendation of its executive committee to sanction Juico and declare him persona non grata on Friday.
“If you are following the Juico/Obiena drama, both sides claim they are right. Yet, possibly both could also be wrong,” said the statement. “But what is truly an internal problem of a certain National Sport Association has now become a national concern. Both sides have been maligned in this issue and what could have been avoided has now been blown to bits and pieces.
“Instead of looking for ways and means to settle the problem and uniting the two sides, we just succeeded to divide the whole Philippine Olympic Committee again,” said the former POC president, referring to the status the current POC leadership under Bambol Tolentino slapped on Juico. “This is what happens when we have conflicts of interest.”
Juico, meanwhile, has taken a fighting stance and said that “we will contest and we will go all the way wherever we need to go.
“Of course, we will fight it,” said Juico in an interview with ANC’s After the Fact. “When they asked me to attend a hearing, the so-called clarificatory hearing, we attended, but we said this is not within their jurisdiction.”
Puentevella, who was at the POC helm when the body also declared former athletics chief Go Teng Kok persona non grata, is asking the current leadership to “please read the rules” as it “cannot just accredit any athlete [to] international competitions … without the approval of [its] NSA or the International Federation.”
A nonresolution of this conflict could force Obiena into a retirement that he doesn’t want. But the POC, in a statement last week, said that it would gladly endorse the pole vaulter to continue representing the Philippines.
Obiena, who claimed to being harassed by the Patafa after it demanded the Olympian to return close to P4.8 million of his coach’s salary, is also being singled out by Puentevella as the one who doesn’t want peace.
“Juico agreed to the mediation offered by the Philippine Sports Commission to end this hopefully in harmony. Obiena does not. So why is Juico the one sanctioned?” he said.
Puentevella ended by asking: “Please defer this decision and I’m sure there is a God-given way to make these two parties meet and make this a better year-ender for us all sports-loving Filipinos.”