Accountability vs responsibility

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

EJ Obiena, the world’s second best pole vaulter and Asian Games gold medalist, is truly changing Philippine pole vault history and has become in many ways a genuine inspiration for our youth, not only in the field of sports but also in elevating the minds of our young people by helping them become true accountable citizens of our nation.

Most recently, an irresponsible and fraudulent accusation was made against the world’s second best pole vaulter, accusing him of doping his way in the championship world. Such an accusation was made even if Obiena has never tested positive for PEDs and has undergone anti-doping procedures in the world championships. Considering that the champ has had three to four tests in a week and never had a positive “A” sample in all of his tournaments, he was nevertheless recklessly accused of doping with no evidence whatsoever.

With this said, such turn of events that has been brought to the attention of all Filipinos, more so fans around the world, signaled further that it is high time for us to start taking action against disinformation due to its negative and harmful impact on people. Having said this, one must always remember that this simply boils down to education.

There is and has been a massive campaign against both misinformation and disinformation in our country and throughout the world, and while we often express that taking action against these is everyone’s responsibility, we must also acknowledge the fact that accountability is just as necessary. When we speak of responsibility and accountability, we must be able to first differentiate between the two.

When we teach the youth, for example, how to detect false news, we give them the steps to identify the source, including other tasks that are relevant in determining whether or not something is true or false. In other words, responsibility is task-oriented and once you have completed the steps, one can begin to offer a solution.

Accountability, on the other hand, revolves around what happens after something has been done. It requires ownership of one’s actions and includes your response to it. Responsibility is, as they say, an ongoing duty and it is part and parcel of our daily lives. Learning new ways of solving problems helps us accomplish our tasks better with the goal of improving as we go along. An athlete like EJ has a responsibility to train everyday, practice his technique and keep up his speed and, as the saying well goes, “practice makes perfect.” His recent gold medal in Huangzhou, China is the Philippines’ first and it has given each and everyone of us a great sense of pride.

Sadly, our champ faces another battle and one that he is readily facing head on – the battle against disinformation. While EJ continues to raise our flag despite this allegation, his team is clearly determined to fight the issue, particularly for the sake of taking not only responsibility but more importantly, accountability. Such accusations have not only proven to hurt and demean a person but while these have been publicly made, Obiena strongly invalidates them with doping tests that continue to prove he is clean, competent and more than capable. The ball is in the court of the accuser who has done nothing but merely put down the comment.

Since EJ’s post on the matter, hundreds of us have expressed our support which, in my mind, is a small contribution to all he has done for the Philippines. We can surely help him better by sharing his story as he stands for the truth. This 27-year-old boy from Tondo in his absolute best form is teaching people a lot of lessons, both in the area of sports and in life. Indeed he is a class act to follow – a great representation for our youth. A real game changer.

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