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Monico Puentevella to plead on restoring EJ Obiena to national team in POC GA

The call to reinstate EJ Obiena to the national team got a backing from weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella, but he also wants the POC to reconsider making PATAFA head Popoy Juico persona non grata. Reuters (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas president Monico Puentevella is planning to ask the Philippine Olympic Committee to bring back EJ Obiena to the national team.

Puentevella said during the Sports on Air Weekly podcast on Friday that he will file a motion for the restoration of Obiena during the POC's general assembly on Jan. 26.

"Ibalik si Obiena sa national pool!" Puentevella exclaimed.

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association is set to remove Obiena from its pool over allegations of questionable liquidations regarding the salary of his coach Vitaly Petrov.

However, PATAFA has deferred the move following its decision to formally join the mediation process to be conducted by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez.

Puentevella also looks to propose the length of the mediation process during the GA as well.

"Ibigay natin kay Chairman Ramirez sa PSC ng two weeks to one month. Alam na ni Chairman Butch kung ano ang gagawin dyan. Nakasama ko na yan sa PSC. Tumagal na yan," added Puentevella, who was once a PSC commissioner spanning three presidencies.

He is putting his trust that Ramirez would be able to finally reconcile both PATAFA and Obiena just like his past achievements.

"Maraming nagawa si Chairman Butch. Of all of them, I admire ang mga ginagawa ni Butch all these years," Puentevella further said.

During Ramirez's second term as PSC chief, the Philippines saw its most successful campaigns ever in athletic meets like the 2019 Southeast Asian Games overall title and the historic gold medal quest of Puentevella's prized athlete Hidilyn Diaz in last year's Tokyo Olympics.

On the other hand, Puentevella will vouch too for the POC to take back the persona non grata tag on PATAFA chief Popoy Juico.

For the former Bacolod mayor and congressman, the POC executive board's initial decision worsened the situation.

"For me, dito nagsimula ang gulo na lumaki," said Puentevella.

He also believes the persona non grata decision might meet some serious opposition in the GA.

"Mahirapang makapasa ang persona non grata kasi we are 50-55 na boboto. Thirty-eight ang kailangang magboto [pabor sa desisyon]. It will be hard to get three-fourth votes," Puentevella added.

The three-fourth votes refer to the needed majority vote for an executive board resolution to make the GA cut.

He is expecting at least a huge majority of the members to attend the GA since it will be done virtually.

Puentevella also believes that if the POC recalls the sanction on Juico, PATAFA might also soften its heart and recall its own penalties on Obiena.

"Pag tinabi mo na yan (Juico's persona non grata tag), I'm sure PATAFA will reconsider as per my reading kay Chairman Rufus Rodriguez at ibabalik [si EJ] sa national pool para everybody happy," Puentevella further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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