By Julmunir I. Jannaral
MARAWI CITY — The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), the athletics sports’ governing body in the country, has recently given its 17-person board of trustees and officers a fresh mandate as the new Olympic cycle picks up and as the association gears up in implementing with more vigor its national sports programs for our elite athletes and the promotion of the sports among the youth sector and within the grassroots communities.
Following its Philippine Olympic Committee (POC)-sanctioned elections held this month, the roster of the PATAFA leadership names Dr. Philip Ella Juico at the helm of the association after being reelected as president. Dr. Juico was a former Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and a former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and he has been a member of the various governance and integrity commissions of the World Athletics, previously called International Association of the Athletics Federations (IAAF).
House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, congressman for the 2nd district of Cagayan de Oro, was reelected association Chairman while the Hon. Senator Bong Go, the Senate Committee on Sports chairman, also remains the Honorary Chairman of the PATAFA.
Other PATAFA officers include: Rommel Sytin, secretary-general; Agapito Capistrano, executive vice president; Atty. Melinda Diaz-Salcedo, corporate secretary; Engr. Noel Silva, treasurer; and Elmer Ngo, auditor.
The board of trustees include: Ilagan City Mayor Josemarie Diaz; former Oriental Mindoro governor Dr. Benjamin Espiritu; sportsman Rafaelito Villavicencio; businessman Felix O. Tiukinhoy Jr; Datu Yusoph Mama (chairman of the board, Philippine Muslim Today); Atty. Roberto Uy; Joseph Anton Bengzon; Jaime Villegas; Dr. Guillermo Torres Jr, and former PATAFA president Go Teng Kok.
The entry of new officers and the reorganization of some roles in the PATAFA board under the continuing strong and excellent leadership of Dr. Philip Juico, the association president, is a strategic move to revitalize the national programs and to improve further the performance of the national athletes for upcoming international competitions accordingly.
“A handful of our elite athletes are currently established ‘star players’ in Asia or even abroad, in their own right, and they have continued to bring honor to the Philippines and inspiration for their fellow countrymen. Many of these strides have been achieved due to the integrity, competence, and judiciousness of the PATAFA leadership,” says Datu Mama, who is now on his third term as member of the board of trustees.
“It’s effective team effort, really, that has delivered outstanding results for the country’s athletics sports performance. We hope to translate these accomplishments in setting a good example for the Philippine sports community, especially among the rising youth sector. It is known that PATAFA as a national sports association is setting the bar high in the anti-doping drive, in promoting sportsmanship, health and fitness development, and even work ethics,” he adds.
Datu Yusoph Mama, who represented the Philippines as the first voting delegate to the 2019 IAAF (now World Athletics) Congress, in behalf of the PATAFA president Dr. Philip Juico, noted that while the vision of the federation is in sync with the World Athletics in rolling out its athletics sports development programme, even as the global pandemic problem is only recently showing signs of curbing down, it is also crafting specific programs tailored to the Filipinos for optimal results.
“The Philippines is respected more in the international athletics sports community today. I’ve personally observed this during my representation in the previous World Athletics congress, and you can feel the sincerity and genuineness of acknowledgment from the leaders in the community such as during the plenary conferences and my ensuing conversations with Dahlan Al-Hamad (Asian Athletics Association president), Sergey Bubka (World Athletics senior vice-president), and even Lord Sebastian Coe (World Athletics president). I believe this was strengthened and made possible through the effective working chemistry of the PATAFA board and Philippine Athletics community punctuated by the outstanding leadership of our president [Dr. Juico],” Datu Mama asserts.
As a technocrat and traditional ruler from Muslim Mindanao, Datu Yusoph Mama also sees much potential for the forthcoming plans of the PATAFA in the regional and provincial levels, both in their competitive and non-competitive (clinical) components.
For this purpose, he extends an invitation to the local communities.
“We invite the various stakeholders in the Athletics sports community in Mindanao, and the greater Philippines, to join us get involved in this very worthwhile endeavor. From the LGU’s (local government units) to the local sports organizations, you can take a more pro-active participation and be partners in our grassroots and youth sports development clinics and activities. It is timely for everyone and beneficial for our health and collective well-being. Besides, the PATAFA’s programs also promote a good sense of competition, camaraderie and sportsmanship,” he emphasized.
In the meantime, the PATAFA announced that the national team is presently training in Baguio city in preparation for the upcoming Ayala Philippine Athletics Championship (aPaC) to be held on December 09 and 10. The sports federation likewise shared that they have a masterplan to acclimatize our national athletes for the Hanoi Games and the next Asian Games which will both be held next year in China. JIJ