Obiena: ‘I do not jump for PATAFA.  I jump for my beloved nation’

By: Dale Rosal - CDN Digital | January 05,2022 - 02:41 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Embattled international pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena remained steadfast and unfazed following the decision of the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (Patafa) to drop him from the national team and sue him for allegedly mishandling his training funds. 

In a lengthy Facebook post on Monday, January 4, the 26-year old Obiena, the current No. 6 pole vaulter in the world said that he was not really surprised of Patafa’s decision to drop him and he felt relieved that he can finally determine what the sports agency is charging him with. 

“I am saddened by the decision of the PATAFA committee and their recommendations but I am not really surprised.  I am relieved that I now finally know what I am being charged with. From the very start, the PATAFA proceeding had the look and feel of a witch hunt.  My legal team can now go about the business of clearing my name and my family’s name. Righteousness always wins in the end,” said Obiena in his Facebook post.

He also reiterated that he will remain loyal to the country and flag. He will compete for the country amidst all the allegations against him from Patafa. 

“On my removal from the national pool, I am always willing to compete for the flag and the country I love with my entire being. I have said before that the only reason I will  not jump for the Philippines is if Philip Juico won’t let me jump for the country,” stated Obiena in his post. 

He also thanked the unwavering support of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), which announced on Tuesday that it will rally to Obiena’s aide and will continue to consider him as part of the national team. 

“This afternoon, the POC made a statement that I will still carry the flag of the Philippines and represent the country.  I thank the POC for doing what is right for the nation and as the National Olympic Committee,” said Obiena. 

Obiena added that he will leave everything to his legal team now that Patafa charged him with estafa for mishandling P360,000 (EUR 6,000) for Petrov’s payment in 2018. Petrov already clarified that Obiena already paid him fully. 

“I will leave everything now to my legal team.  I will focus on training and jumping. My season will start in less than a month.  The drama brought about by this witch hunt has taken valuable time, effort and energy away from my training and preparation.  I have a small window to save my season and I do not want to be distracted any further by Philip Juico and the PATAFA.  They have done enough damage already and I will be at fault if I allow them to cause further harm.  I will clear my name in court and I will clear my name in competition. My pole will be my platform. My every jump is my defiance to everything that is wrong in the sport. And an affirmation that the Filipino is tough, enduring, loyal and will stand up for what is right and true.  I do not jump for Mr. Philip Ella Juico or the PATAFA.  I jump for my beloved nation. Ako ay atletang Pilipino. Tumatalon ako para sa Pilipinas at sa lahat ng aking kababayan,” Obiena stated.

Lastly, he thanked everyone, especially his family, his team, friends, netizens and the Filipinos who supported him in what he considered as ‘trying times’ in his flourishing athletic career. 

/bmjo

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TAGS: Ernest John "EJ" Obiena, PATAFA, Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association, Philippine Olympic Committee, POC

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