POC declares Juico persona non grata as PSC cancels mediation plan between Obiena, PATAFA

PSC stands aside EJ Obiena and PATAFA’s rift (gmanetwork.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has declared athletics chief Philip Ella Juico as persona non grata in the light of his rift with Olympic pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena.

“The POC approved the recommendation of the Ethics Committee declaring Juico as persona non grata. We do not recognize him anymore as president of PATAFA [Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association] until the new election of its president,” said POC president Abraham Tolentino after the POC Executive Board meeting in Pasay City.

Tolentino stressed that the PATAFA maintains the POC’s recognition as the national association for the sport despite the sanction on Juico. He added that all of the association’s officers are also recognized by the POC.

The sanction stemmed from the Ethics Committee’s investigation that concluded that Juico “harassed” Obiena by making “malicious public accusations.”

The committee report said that Obiena, a finalist at the Tokyo Olympics and Asian men’s record holder, was accused and maligned publicly by Juico in the media in November for allegedly falsifying his liquidation report on his Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov’s salaries.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will no longer be the mediator between pole vaulter EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

Previously, the PSC tried to mend things between their superstar athlete and one of their sports organizations who recently figured in money issues specifically delayed payments and false liquidations accused by PATAFA.

The PSC then decided to back out of their initial plan after Obiena stated that PATAFA is still continuing to air statements despite a moratorium already set by the PSC.

“I have been quiet lately as I have realized I cannot out-politic a politician. I just want to be clear that I have no issue with the PSC mediation; in fact, I was the first to agree to it verbally but things change when the other party neglected the moratorium imposed by PSC and continued to insinuate ill behaviors,” said Obiena.

The PSC was then quick to respond with their action and withdrew from being the mediator of both parties.

PSC also added that their decision came out of respect to Obiena’s statements and has no problem if the athlete wants the other institutions to conduct the much-needed procedures.

“First, there is already a process underway with the POC and IOC related to my case on harassment. I believe it’s appropriate to allow this process to finish unencumbered by outside matters such as a parallel mediation process. I believe it’s right to allow several more days for the POC process to conclude. Secondly, with all the facts on the table, I honestly don’t see what is left to mediate,” Obiena added.