EJ Obiena’s mother ‘lent’ P600,000 to Patafa for son’s training allowance
MANILA, Philippines — At one point, the mother of pole vaulter EJ Obiena had to initially shoulder P600,000 for her son’s training allowance after knowing of the Olympian’s living conditions then.
“Nag-abono po ako ng P600,000 para sa anak ko sa dahil po nung panahon po na iyon, nag-follow up po ako sa Patafa tungkol sa training allowance ni EJ. Nung panahon na yun na sabi po sakin…wala pa pong pondo ang Patafa,” Obiena’s mother, Jeanette, said during Monday’s Senate hearing into the rift between Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).
(I had to shoulder P600,000 for my son because at that time, I followed up with Patafa about the training allowance of EJ. At that time, I was told Patafa has no funds yet.)
“Nung panahon pong yun, nakapag-usap po kasi kami ni EJ. Nasabi po kasi sakin ni EJ na wala po siyang pambayad at siya po ay nakikitira lang kay Thiago Braz, yun pong Olympic champion ng Olympics 2016,” she added.
(At that time, I talked with EJ. He told me he had no money and he is living with Thiago Braz, the Olympic champion who won in the 2016 Olympics.)
Obiena’s mother said the pole vaulter would do house chores to make up for him living there.
“Nung nandoon po siya sa bahay ni Thiago para po kahit papaano hindi po nakakahiya kay Thiago, naglilinis po si EJ doon sa bakuran nila. Naggugupit po siya ng damo, naglilinis ng bahay, naghuhugas nga plato para hindi po nakakahiya kay Thiago dahil nakikitira siya doon at that time,” she said.
(When he was living with Thiago, to make up EJ would work in the backyard, cut grass, clean the house, wash the dishes so it would not be much trouble for him to live there.)
“So ako po gumawa po ako ng paraan, nanghiram po ng pera at the same time kung ano po yung naipon naming mag-asawa, ipinadala po namin sakanya para maitawid po siya. Dahil bilang magulang po, hindi ko po matanggap na ang anak ko nasa ibang bansa nagiisa at hindi mo po malaman kung may titirahan at may kakainin,” she added.
(So I figured out a way, I borrowed money and at the same time we used our savings, we had it sent to him to support him there. Because as a parent, I cannot accept that my child is in another country alone and we’re not sure that he will have a roof over his head or he would have something to eat.)
Before this, Obiena said her mother “lent money” to Patafa to fulfill a portion of financial assistance that would cover his training period from November 2018 to October 2019.
This, as he was explaining how the financial assistance totaling over P3 million was given to him in five tranches. He said it took nine months for the assistance to be fully released.
Among these releases included P600,000 deposited on May 17, 2019.
“In this case, this is a special transfer as it is our money, my mom actually lent money to my NSA (national sports association), Patafa, to fulfill this payment,” Obiena said.
In November last year, 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 sporting association over the alleged falsification of his liquidation reports.
Obiena was also accused of failing to pay his coach Vitaly Petrov. The Filipino pole vaulter, however, had denied that he failed to release the salary of Petrov for the services he rendered from early 2018 onward.
Petrov himself also disputed Patafa’s accusations.
“Did I pay late? I did. And I have paid Vitaly Petrov late. I could have done that better job doing this,” Obiena told senators.
However, he pointed to the 2019 board resolution covering the P3-million financial assistance for his training.
“It covers the training period of November 2018 to October 2019. As you can see the board resolution is supposed to cover November 2018 [but it] was only published on January 8 of 2019,” he said.
“The board resolution was late by two months and it took a full nine months before it was fully paid to me,” he added.
In his presentation before senators, Obiena said his first payment to Petrov was in Jan. 2019
Patafa, for its part, maintained that Obiena only first paid Petrov 28 months after funds were released in May 2018.
“This is nothing personal. It all started with a report and it is our duty as part of our stewardship to do something about it. Dapat ba what I should have done when I received the report was just to keep quiet and buried under the rug?” Patafa president Philip Juico.