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Freeman Cebu Sports

Message unsent

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

We did not send EJ Obiena to the world indoors championship. We did not, even if he is the first Filipino to qualify for the event after his twin golden performance in Poland. We did not, even if a few days earlier he cleared a season best of 5.91 meters in France, a height that landed him a silver medal at a podium he shared with Olympic silver and bronze medalists. We did not, because he has a clear chance to clear a height worth a medal.

We are not sending him to the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in May this year either. We are not, because he might successfully defend his crown and improve his 5.45-meter regional record. We are not sending him to the Asian Games in China in September too. We are not, because he is continental best. We are not, because he currently holds the Asian record and his personal best of 5.93 meters.

Or almost 20 feet. Equivalent to the average height of a two-storey house that the average Filipino hardly affords. That high. But not as high as the Filipino standard for electing people to public office. But Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, is higher. Or longer. At 20 feet 3 inches. He died largely due to his forced stay in simulated habitat. Other crocodiles have stayed longer than necessary though, the kind that freely crawl in an august hall. And more elsewhere.

We are not sending him to the world athletics championships in the United States in July. We are not, because he is currently ranked number five in the world. We are not, because in a sport where the winner and loser are separated by a centimeter, EJ on a good day may win a historic world medal.

We are not and we will not, because the country’s athletics federation removed him from the national team. It does not and it will not, because EJ falsified liquidation documents for the salary of his foreign coach. It does not and it will not, because the foreign coach for whom the salary was intended for cleared his ward of failure to pay. It does not and it will not, because the Ukrainian vault mentor vouches his mentee even paid a little more.

  It does not and it will not, because EJ Obiena, that rare find of a gem, is facing serious charges of falsification and misappropriation of public funds. It does not and it will not, because the case is currently investigated and mediated.

Who is it sending to the region, the continent and the world to clear medal heights then? No one. Except message to the world that in this country there are times when constitutional presumption of innocence is not honored and respected. Even in sports. But even if the message is unsent, the world already knows.

EJ OBIENA

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