PATAFA moves on, officially disowns Obiena

Joey Villar - Philstar.com
PATAFA moves on, officially disowns Obiena
The Philippines' Ernest John Obiena competes in the men's pole vault final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021.
Ben Stansall / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Beleaguered Olympian pole-vaulter EJ Obiena is no longer listed in the national team roster and could be facing a looming uphill legal battle against the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association for alleged falsification of liquidation reports.

“With respect to Mr. Ernest John Obiena, he has chosen to remove himself from the jurisdiction of PATAFA,” said PATAFA in a statement signed by its president Philip Ella Juico and chairman Rufus Rodriguez on Friday.

“He decided to align, work with and avail himself of total support purportedly guaranteed by his patrons, agents and political backers. They are expected to support his training, maintenance, medical needs and compliance with requirements of tournament organizers,” it added.

PATAFA, being the governing body of the sport, has the right to endorse an athlete for funding and monthly allowance from the Philippine Sports Commission.

Unless the PSC decides to fund Obiena without PATAFA’s endorsement, the World No. 5 is now on his own.

Without PATAFA’s blessings, Obiena would be relying on his backers' assistance including Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, who recently vowed to help the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist find private funding.

Obiena would also have to contend with PATAFA in the court of law.

“Even as PATAFA consider this Obiena case closed, with the COA (Commission on Audit) doing a special audit, the PATAFA is constrained by law and policies to pursue legal options as identified by the committee which investigated the allegations against him. The responsibility falls on our shoulders,” said PATAFA.

PATAFA explained if Obiena had not declined mediation proposed by the PSC twice, this would not have happened.

“We tried to talk to him and settle issues with him three times and made ourselves available for PSC’s mediation efforts. But he spurned all these efforts even saying that we were entering the mediation in bad faith. He took a different path, preferring to do things his way which we will respect,” it said.

PATAFA said it is now focusing its energy to preparing the national team in the 31st Southeast Asian Games slated May 12-23 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“PATAFA therefore chooses to move one. There’s so much work to be done and attention that needs to be given to our more than 50 athletes, coaches and other stakeholders. All of them need to be given the same proportionate opportunities provided to an exclusive circle,” it said.




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