PSC, senators want an end to ‘harassment’ vs EJ Obiena

EJ Obiena pole vault sea game

FILE – The pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena during the 30th Southeast Asian Games. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / INQUIR

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and several senators on Tuesday called for an end to the “harassment” against pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who was accused of allegedly falsifying liquidation documents.

During the plenary debates on the 2022 budget, senators reopened discussions on the PSC’s budget, which the Senate recalled following a proposal by Senator Pia Cayetano, who lamented the Commission’s hand-off approach to the Obiena-Patafa issue.

Cayetano said she and PSC President Butch Ramirez along with the commission’s budget sponsor, Senator Joel Villanueva, had a meeting earlier in the day to discuss the issue involving Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Association (Patafa).

“They immediately made it clear that they regret that these things would happen and that the PSC values ​​and attaches great importance to our athletes, especially to a national athlete who, as I always say, is NOT a national treasure that gave pride and honor to the Filipino people, ”said Villanueva.

“The PSC also shares the feelings of our prominent colleagues here in the Senate, and the PSC says even more that we must continue to protect and support athletes and not demoralize them, thus supporting the PSC in its call to stop harassment against the EJ. Obiena, ”he added.

Cayetano wanted to confirm whether the call for an end to the “harassment” against Obiena was the exact statement of the PSC chairman.

“I would like to thank [Sen. Villanueva] if that is correct, if it is a literal statement that the PSC is calling for an end to the harassment against EJ? ”she asked.

Villanueva answered in the affirmative.

“I appreciate it. Stop the harassment and that’s exactly what our poor boy EJ Obiena has been through, I think all the athletes, all the Filipino athletes, those who have brought us honor… those who strive, they need to hear it again and again. ” said Cayetano.

She then asked if Ramirez would be prepared to make a separate statement on the issue.

In response, Villanueva said the president would release a statement on Wednesday.

“The chairman will really make sure that this message will be heard tomorrow from the Philippine Sports Commission,” he added.

Villanueva also passed on to his colleagues the assurance from the PSC that athletes who may be in a similar situation to Obiena can contact the PSC.

Madam sorry, okay, just add it after the 13th paragraph?

The proposed 2022 budget for the PSC was eventually approved by the Senate.

Cayetano warned, however, that she would move to remove its budget from Patafa under the PSC if there would be no “sincere efforts” to “rectify the serious injustice done to” Obiena.

This, as she noted that the budget process does not end with Senate approval, as both houses of Congress will still meet in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile disagreements with the proposed 2022 law on general appropriations.

Earlier, Patafa ordered Obiena, who finished 11th in the pole vault competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, to return € 85,000 (over P4.8 million) to the National Sports Federation due to the alleged falsification of his liquidation reports.

Obiena was also accused of failing to pay his coach Vitaly Petrov.

However, the Philippine pole vaulter denied at a news conference over the weekend that he failed to release the salary to Petrov for the services he provided from the beginning of 2018 onwards.

Petrov, who joined Obiena under online pressure, also challenged Patafa’s allegations, saying Obiena paid him the € 5,000 monthly scholarship.

Obiena said he has filed formal complaints against Patafa for the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics.

“I have lodged formal complaints with the POC, IOC and World Athletics as we are now talking about standard defamation of character,” Obiena had said.

Patafa, meanwhile, dismissed Obiena’s allegation of “character assassination” and said the investigation carried out by its board on Obiena was purely internal and had been kept away from the prying eyes of the public.

The POC, meanwhile, said recently that it would launch an inquiry into the issue involving Obiena and Patafa.

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