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Juico ban divides POC



There was no division of the house, but Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) members offered contrasting opinions over the ratification of the persona non grata status of Philip Ella Juico.

POC chairman Steve Hontiveros of handball and Monico Puentevella of weightlifting were not in favor and questioned the process while Mariano Araneta of football asserted that the decision was collegial with majority voting in favor.

Juico, a distinguished sports leader and former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, was formally declared persona non grata for allegedly harassing Olympian EJ Obiena over his failure to disburse the salary of his coach from 2018 to 2021 and submission of spurious liquidation documents.

The POC ethics committee conducted an investigation and found out that he maligned the reputation of his star athlete despite Juico’s refusal to cooperate after maintaining that the issue is an internal matter.

With that, it recommended that Juico be declared unwanted in the POC family, something which the POC executive council immediately adopted.

Then, the 53-man general assembly ratified the resolution through signature campaign – and not through a division of the house as what the Olympic council usually does whenever it decides crucial matters.

Juico said the process was railroaded and was only meant to embarrass him before other members. After all, he is considered as a political rival of Tolentino after facing him in the POC polls in 2019.

Hontiveros, a seasoned sport official, said the POC general assembly should have delved deep into the issue instead of simply signing on the resolution affirming Juico’s banishment from the Olympic council.

“Yes, the public sympathy is with the athlete, but the POC should have gone deeper. They should have looked into the whole picture,” said Hontiveros, who has been a POC member for more than 40 years.

“Whatever they decided in the assembly, I hope they have their conscience in check. Only God will see if their decision was right or not.”

Puentevella questioned the manner of proceeding.

“At the end of the assembly, Tolentino stated that the persona non grata does not change the status of Juico as president of Patafa. He remains as the president of the federation and will still be recognized as such,” Puentevella said.

“So, what was that (persona non grata) all about? Just to insult the Patafa president?”

According to Tolentino not all members were given the chance to review the resolution before signing. In fact, the group of Hontiveros, Robert Bachmann of squash, Freddie Jalasco of wushu, Clint Aranas of archery Charlie Ho of netball and Jonne Go of field hockey didn’t have the chance to see the resolution.

Puentevella said even International Olympic Committee representative Mikee Cojuancgo-Jaworski expressed sadness over what transpired.

“Only 36 members who signed and voted to oust Juico were given resolutions to sign. Selective transparency,” Puentevella said.

“Without any arguments from both sides, it was already a done deal.”

Araneta, however, maintained that everything was done aboveboard.

“It went through the process,” Araneta, the country’s chief of mission in the Tokyo Olympics, said.

“They (Patafa) didn’t participate with the ethics committee then they went to the board and the majority of the board decided to adapt the recommendation of the ethics committee. It’s a collegial decision, it’s not just the decision of one person.”