Stoking the fire

Lito A. Tacujan - The Philippine Star


MANILA, Philippines — What started as a tiny spark threatens to turn into a menacing wild fire that could consume the very structure of Philippine sports.

From a simple inquiry on alleged misuse of government fund within the confines of a sports body, the issue has taken a life of its own, feeding on the egos of local officials and lawmakers, in the process reaching the august seat of the Olympic Movement in Lausanne.

The executive council of the POC, headed by Rep. Abraham Tolentino, further exacerbated the situation by suspending PATAFA for 90 days without due process on the heels of the EJ Obiena imbroglio.

And it came as unnecessary distraction to the on-going mediation by the Philippine Sports Commission on the Obiena-PATAFA row.

The POC literally put a wedge between the world No. 5 pole vaulter and the athletics body during the initial probe earlier by assuring it would endorse the athlete in international meets he would enter in.

With the suspension, it appears the POC was keen on banning PATAFA, headed by Philip Juico, for 90 days with flimsy reasons like being remiss in its mandate for athletics development and non-inclusion of Obiena in the Hanoi SEAG.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is reportedly keeping an eye on the dispute that took another twist on the suspension and utter disregard for PATAFA’s rights and autonomy.

“It’s arbitrary, whimsical, capricious,” fumed PATAFA chair Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

“We will take legal steps and challenge this,” said Juico.

Now the country may face possible sanction from the powerful IOC which could suspend it from the Olympics and other meets endorsed by IOC for goverment intervention as what it did with Kuwait in 2015.

It has put in jeopardy the stints of national athletes and their coaches in regional meets like the SEAG, and rue the controversy over Obiena, whom they alleged to enjoy special treatment from sports authorities even on the simple task of liquidating public fund which they regularly do.

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