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POC GA approves persona non grata tag on PATAFA chief Popoy Juico

Popoy Juico is now declared persona non grata by the POC. PSA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine Olympic Committee has ratified in the general assembly level its executive board's decision last month to declare Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association president Popoy Juico "persona non grata".

A huge majority vote went in favor of slapping Juico with the said tag as the tension between PATAFA and world number six pole vaulter EJ Obiena continues to heat up.

Out of 54 members who attended the general assembly on Wednesday either virtually or physically in Tagaytay, 36 voted yes to the ratification, including three members of the POC Athlete's Commission namely Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, multi-titled triathlete Nikko Huelgas, and champion swimmer Jessie Lacuna.

As expected, Juico, who was in attendance and explained his side of the rift to the GA, voted no even as representatives from wushu, weightlifting, squash, and hockey also moved to reject the ratification.

"He was given a chance to speak. In-explain niya yung side niya, kaya lang bakit hindi niya in-explain sa ethics committee?" POC chief Bambol Tolentino said in the online press conference right after the GA.

Weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella publicly said two weeks ago that he wants the POC to recall the tag on Juico.

Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the Philippine representative to the International Olympic Committee, abstained from the vote along with representatives from netball and dancesport.

Ten other attendees failed to cast a vote, but Tolentino revealed that at least four of them wanted to vote but missed the cut-off.

"There were four more voters who want to vote in favor. Hindi na namin hinabol," Tolentino said.

He then clarified that he has no hard feelings on Juico upon ratifying the persona non grata tag on him.

"It's just I'm following the procedure," Tolentino further said.

He then said that PATAFA can still send a representative to the POC GA, either the vice president or secretary-general, with Juico essentially prohibited from attending.

Tolentino added that although a two-thirds vote has been met, a simple majority would have been enough since the GA is not voting for the ouster of Juico as PATAFA chief.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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