Sotto to Patafa: Leave EJ Obiena alone, resolve issues privately
MANILA, Philippines — Olympian EJ Obiena should be left alone and allowed to focus on his upcoming tournaments, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday amid the athlete’s rift with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).
Sotto, who was a former member of the Philippine bowling team, said that the issue between Obiena and the Patafa was handled “unprofessionally”.
“Leave EJ alone. Allow him to focus on his tournaments,” Sotto said in a statement.
“I was a national athlete too and I feel the frustration that our pole vaulter is feeling now. It’s hard to train in another country without your family and the culture that you are used to,” he added.
Sotto said the Patafa should have settled its differences with Obiena privately.
“Our athletes represent the country on a different level. They should be getting our support and not being attacked by sports associations,” Sotto said.
“The issue was handled unprofessionally. What was PATAFA thinking when it attacked our athlete? All persons involved in this mess should meet privately and resolve their issues without the glare of cameras,” he added.
Patafa earlier recommended 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.
A criminal complaint of estafa is also set to be filed by Patafa against Obiena over EUR 6,000 (P360,000) meant for the salary of Petrov from May 2018 to August 2018.
In turn, Obiena said he is ready to face the complaint, saying that his legal team can now fully concentrate on clearing up his and his family’s name.