THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) will resist and take legal steps against the 90-day suspension it recently received from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

“We will continue as official NSA (national sports association) of track and field and we’ll send our athletes to the Southeast Asian Games,” said PATAFA President Philip Ella Juico during Wednesday’s online briefing. “We will continue what we are mandated to do until our international federation tells us to stop.

“We are resisting and we hope other NSAs will see this, but it’s up to them. We are taking all the necessary legal steps,” he added.

PATAFA chair Rufus Rodriguez, for his part, called the ban “arbitrary, premature and whimsical.”

“There is an ongoing mediation between us and Mr. (EJ) Obiena and here comes the POC and out of nowhere suspended us,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “We are autonomous and we’ve always decided what’s best for our athletes. The suspension is illegal and unfounded.”

POC has suspended PATAFA for failing to serve its purpose as an NSA, which according to the former must have “the dedication and commitment toward the development of the sport, promoting the ideals of the Olympic Movement and the spirit of sportsmanship.”

The ban came in the aftermath of PATAFA’s non-endorsement of Ernest John “EJ” Obiena to the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia last week and the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games set on May 12 to 23.

Meanwhile, 27 members of the national team, which included four Southeast Asian Games gold medalists, and 11 national coaches have thrown their support to PATAFA.

“I think it’s time for PATAFA to teach him (Mr. Obiena) a lesson,” said national coach Jojo Posadas.

“I think this issue teaches us that we should now start to focus on other local athletes, not just him,” said another national mentor Dario Enriquez. — Joey Villar