MANILA, Philippines — For former national athlete and senatorial candidate Monsour del Rosario, the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to suspend the country’s beleaguered track and field association — without letting the mediation process happen — is unjust and aggressive.
While discussions about athletes tend to be emotional, cooler heads should prevail since a number of issues surround the suspension of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) as a national sports organization, according to del Rosario.
The suspension of Patafa raised hopes that star pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who is involved in a spat with his mother agency, would be allowed to join the Philippine roster for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
“There are so many layers to this issue that the public needs to understand and we shouldn’t muddle that understanding with statements made out of emotional bias or, worse, a hero complex to side with the aggrieved athlete,” del Rosario said in a statement Friday.
“The recent suspension order by the [POC] on PATAFA, along with the statements made by POC president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino, in my opinion, are quite unjust and aggressive. There is an ongoing mediation process and I believe all parties should participate and complete that process first privately before making any rash decisions and public pronouncements,” he added.
According to del Rosario, who used to be part of the country’s SEA Games teams for taekwondo, he understands the plight of Obiena, who was barred from joining the roster of national delegates for the regional sports event in May.
However, the senatorial aspirant believes the issue should be resolved first by having both sides settle concerns and not by suspending the whole Patafa.
“As an athlete and sports leader myself, I do empathize with EJ Obiena. To see all your hopes and dreams fly away just because of one setback is truly heartbreaking. But I believe it’s not enough reason to bring the whole PATAFA down,” del Rosario explained.
“Instead of a suspension order that would risk affecting the futures of all other athletes under PATAFA’s care, the POC should join hands with the PSC to compel Obiena and PATAFA to participate and complete the mediation process in accordance with the directive of the Senate Committee on Sports,” he added.
Last Thursday, POC and Tolentino said that the suspension of Patafa and the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta) is meant to allow Obiena and tennis phenom Alex Eala to join the country’s delegation in Vietnam.
READ: POC suspends PH tennis, athletics, takes supervision of national athletes
However, Patafa claimed earlier that only national sports agencies like them are allowed to form national teams.
READ: Patafa cites PSC law: Only NSA can form national team
Patafa has been in hot water for allegedly harassing Obiena, after it ordered the athlete to return 85,000 euros (more than P4.8 million pesos) in financial assistance after he allegedly failed to pay his coach, Vitaly Petrov, for training expenses.
Obiena denied the claims, and Petrov eventually clarified his statement that he was being paid properly by the athlete and that he only wanted the process to be made faster as Obiena was making advances on behalf of the government.
The athlete accused the head of Patafa, Philip Juico, of sabotaging his Olympic bid. However, Juico said that he was not involved in the things Obiena was claiming.
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