POC calls Patafa move on Obiena a ‘vengeful act’
CEBU CITY, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) already expected the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (Patafa) to drop embattled pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena from its ranks and sue him as a ‘vengeful act.’
Roughly a week after POC declared Patafa chief Phillip Ella Juico as Persona Non Grata, the latter recommended to drop Obiena from the national training pool on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.
Patafa’s decision to drop Obiena from the national training pool is based on its investigation on the athlete’s alleged misuse of his training funds. Patafa also stated that it will file criminal charges against Obiena.
POC President, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said they expected that move.
“The action of Mr. Juico in removing EJ Obiena from the National Pool is an expected result of his expose. A vengeful act that shuts down the chances of the Philippines from its Olympic dream. The POC has made an early evaluation of this and, I am sorry that we cannot make our cards shown in public. Suffice it to say that we are created for the Olympic dreams of our athletes and we will support our athletes in achieving their dreams,” said Tolentino in a statement released on Tuesday.
According to Tolentino, it is now the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC) decision if they will allow Patafa to drop Obiena from its ranks or they will step in to prevent this from happening.
Obiena, the world’s No. 6 pole vaulter, is one of the top bets for the Philippines to win a gold medal in the 2024 Paris Olympics. He is also set to vie in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May in Hanoi, Vietnam and the Hangzhou, China Asian Games in September.
“The ball is now with the PSC. Will the PSC allow EJ to be stricken off from the national team (SEA Games and Asian Games year)? Will the government allow a world-class athlete to be out of the national team? Will sports stakeholders—the public, especially, allow EJ to be out of the national team. Of course, we in the POC will help EJ in his future campaigns,” said Tolentino in his statement.
‘We’ll fight for EJ’
In the event that Patafa won’t reinstate Obiena to the national pool, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a provision allowing National Olympic Committees like POC to endorse athletes in the absence of an endorsement from its NSA.
The host country of the games also has a prerogative to allow embattled athletes to compete as ‘refugee athletes,’ including the Olympics.
“We in the POC will make sure EJ will be in Hanoi and Huangzhou and in all other major world competitions, we’ll fight for EJ,” added Tolentino.
“RA 6487 creating the PSC mandates it in Section 7 , sub-paragraph,” to exercise such other acts as are incident to or are appropriate and necessary in connection with the creation of the Commission. Will the PSC turn its back on this mandate? I don’t think so. This is precisely why the PSC is created. To act as the final caretaker of athletes when an oppressive NSA is apparently shutting its doors to world class athletes.”
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