Sports

POC to investigate EJ Obiena-Patafa mess


Ernest John Obiena from the Philippines clears the bar in the men's pole vault athletics event at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in the athletics stadium in Clark City, Capas, Tarlac province north of Manila on December 7, 2019.

Ernest John Obiena from the Philippines clears the bar in the men’s pole vault athletics event at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in the athletics stadium in Clark City, Capas, Tarlac province north of Manila on December 7, 2019. Khongprasit won. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) bemoaned the rift between EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) over the alleged falsification of liquidation documents.

The POC also vowed to launch a probe on the issue that has career-threatening implications for the fifth-best pole vaulter in the world.

“We are in deepest regret to realize that one of our Olympians, multi-medalist and great inspiration Ernest John Obiena of athletics, to be involved in this squabble with his home federation,” POC President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said in a statement.

Obiena demanded a public apology and retraction of allegations from Patafa while also threatening to retire.

Patafa ordered Obiena to return 85,000 euros (over P4.8 million) in financial help intended for the salary of his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov after claiming that the Tokyo Olympian “falsified the liquidations” he submitted to the federation.

“I am very disappointed. They could have handled the situation internally absent of any misfires from both parties,” Tolentino said. “A bountiful career is now in peril.”

Obiena, 25, holds the Asian pole vault record which he set in Innsbruck, Austria last September.

“Needless to say, we, Filipinos, will be deprived of two gold medals in the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in 2022 and in Cambodia 2023, not to mention another one in the Asian Games also next year and most importantly, a representation in the Paris Olympics come 2024, due to the fiasco in the leadership of his organization,” Tolentino said.

“We could have easily propagated this achievement to the youth by proper guidance and genuine attitude.”

The POC’s Ethics Committee has been tasked to investigate on the matter, which has caught the attention of the Senate as senators recalled the proposed 2022 budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) during the budget plenary deliberations on Monday.

“Since the PSC is the source of funds, it could have easily—under its mandate—intervened and corrected the same from the very beginning,” Tolentino said.

“But we in the POC will be steadfast and for the sake of Olympism and impartiality, will go into the details and investigate the matter.”

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