Obiena still wants to represent PH, ready to face Patafa charges
MANILA, Philippines—EJ Obiena remained committed to representing the country amid the threat of expulsion from the national team.
In a Facebook post, Obiena is unfazed despite the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s (Patafa) investigative committee’s recommendation that the Olympian pole vaulter be dropped from the federation’s national training pool of athletes over his alleged falsification of liquidation reports with regard to payments made to coach Vitaly Petrov.
“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,” wrote Obiena.
“I do not jump for Mr. Philip Ella Juico or the PATAFA. I jump for my beloved nation,” added Obiena, who has the backing of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Obiena also defended his longtime adviser and backer Jim Lafferty, whom the national sports association had declared as persona non grata.
“Jim is a sports patriot for the Philippines and has been helping Filipino athletes for more than 15 years. He has spent millions of his own money to help our athletes without asking or receiving anything in return,” wrote Obiena. “He has done so much for the Philippines, the Filipino athlete and even for the PATAFA; and instead of giving him a pat on the back, he is now being rewarded by declaring him a persona non-grata. This is so senseless.”
The 26-year-old Obiena admitted that Patafa’s move to drop him from the Philippine team did not surprise him. He also said that his legal team can now fully concentrate on clearing up his name and his family’s name after knowing what he’s being charged with.
Patafa’s investigation committee also recommended filing a criminal complaint of estafa over 6,000 euros, around P345,000 meant for the coaching fee of Petrov from May 2018 to August 2018.
“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,” posted Obiena, who also said he is “ready to face all cases and charges filed against me in any court or forum.”
“I have been viciously charged with a crime that I have not committed. PATAFA will file charges against me for ESTAFA even if I have already paid my coach the entire amount that is due him. They refuse to recognize this and would rather drag me to court. I am ready for everything that Philip Juico and the PATAFA will throw at me as their intention now is finally clear, they want me out of the Philippine Team and they don’t want me to jump for the Philippines. They should have just said this two months ago and saved everyone a lot of time and grief.”