POC President Abraham Tolentino — POC PHOTO RELEASE

THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) cracked the whip on the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and Philippine Tennis Association (PHILTA) by suspending the two for 90 days due to separate reasons.

POC President Abraham Tolentino cited noncompliance of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) order to amend its charter and hold new elections as reason for banning PHILTA, which was serving a two-year ban by the ITF in 2020.

For PATAFA, the congressman from Tagaytay said the former allegedly failed to serve its purposed as a national sports association, which was supposed to have “the dedication and commitment toward the development of the sport, promoting the ideals of the Olympic movement and the spirit of sportsmanship.”

“Our constitution states that POC may suspend for any reason. However, it’s transparent that PATAFA has deliberately and intentionally disregarded our basic principles of promoting sports and development,” said Mr. Tolentino.

The PhilCycling chief also cited the non-endorsement of Asian pole-vault record-holder Ernest John “EJ” Obiena to the World Indoor Championship slated for Friday in Belgrade, Serbia and the Hanoi Southeast Asian (SEA) Games set on May 12 to 23 was the last straw.

“Unfortunately, the non-endorsement of EJ has created a national issue. EJ Obiena, under our International Olympic Committee Charter, has two reasons to be endorsed — sports merit and inspiration to the youth,” he said.

“Patafa prioritized its pride, and it saddens [me] to look closely on a chance slowly gripping away. They have withheld an opportunity of the Filipino people to have another world record.

“The time is clearly now for EJ who is mentally and physically prepared. We are in a reachable milestone within our grasp,” he added.

The suspension will be effective for 90 days and will be ratified by the POC General Assembly during its regular meeting on March 30.

If ratified, Patafa will not have any authority over the national athletics team to the SEA Games, which would allow Mr. Obiena a chance to compete and defend his gold medal in Hanoi.

But Mr. Tolentino said both suspensions could be dismissed sooner than their terms.

“If PHILTA complies with the ITF order, and the ITF accepts PHILTA’s compliance, the suspension of the tennis association will be lifted immediately,” said Mr. Tolentino.

For the PATAFA, it is much simpler.

“If the PSC’s mediation effort over Patafa and EJ [Obiena] is completed and ironed out, its suspension will also be lifted,” said Mr. Tolentino.

Nine members of the board voted for the suspension, while two — Charlie Ho (netball) and Cynthia Carrion-Norton (gymnastics) abstained. POC Chairman Steve Hontiveros and International Olympic Committee Representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski were absent from the special board meeting.

The suspensions will give the POC direct supervision over PHILTA and Patafa’s national athletes — including Mr. Obiena — coaches and sporting officials, while financial matters will be under the control of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). — Joey Villar