Obiena ‘more than willing’ to reconcile with Patafa
MANILA, Philippines — Pole vaulter EJ Obiena is “more than willing” to reconcile with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa), saying he also wants to be reinstated in the national team.
“What I really just want is me to be reinstated as a national athlete, to be able to represent the Philippines and handle my liquidation or funding in a better system that it would not go through me as I proposed to Patafa in August,” Obiena said during Monday’s hearing of the Senate sports and finance committees, which are looking into the rift between him and Patafa.
“I am more than willing to reconcile, my only worry is how sure am I that these kinds of things that happen now will never happen again,” he added.
In November last year, Obiena was accused of falsifying liquidation documents and was ordered to return 85,000 euros (over P4.8 million) in financial help intended for the salary of his Ukrainian coach Vitaliy Petrov.
Patafa also wanted Obiena to prove that his coach was being paid on time his salaries dating back to May 2018.
But the Filipino athlete 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.
“I want to be able to compete. I want this done. I want this as far away from me as it is affecting me in my preparations and I truly believe that is all that I would be needing to be able to continue,” he added.
Patafa president Philip Juico, for his part, said the association is also open to a mediation.
“We are for going back to mediation organized by the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission),” Juico told senators.
“On his non-inclusion in the list of athletes, that is a board decision of Patafa, not mine, so we have to discuss that,” he added.
Hidilyn supports EJ
Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who was also invited to the hearing, expressed support for Obiena.
“Sa part lang ni EJ gusto lang namin, as an athlete, pakinggan din po ano po talaga ang pangangailangan namin…Sana maresolba na kasi alam kong mahirap para kay EJ na habang may injury siya ngayon, pinoproblema niya pa yung accounting baka may kaso pa siya pagdating dito,” Diaz said.
(For EJ’s part, as an athlete, we just want to be listened to in terms of our needs. I hope this will be resolved because I know this is hard for EJ who has an injury, he is worrying over the accounting of the funds, he may also face a case when he comes back.)
“Medyo mahirap yun kay EJ na pagisipan kung anong gagawin, maghahanda pa siya sa mga laro niya. Ang dami niyang laro ngayong Pebrero,” she added.
(It is hard for EJ that he is thinking about what to do, he still has to prepare for his competitions. He has a lot lined up in February.)
Diaz and Obiena were among the Filipino athletes who headed to Tokyo last year and secured the country’s most successful performance in the Olympics.
“Sana ang isipin natin ang ginagawa kasi ni EJ for the Philippines. Sinakripisyo niya yung ilang taon na malayo sa pamilya niya para irepresenta ang Pilipinas,” Diaz further said.
(I hope we see that what EJ is doing is for the Philippines. He sacrificed his time with his family for years to be able to represent the Philippines.)
She, however, still stressed the need for each side to respect one another.
“Naiintidihan ko rin po na may mga procedure or protocol na kailangang sundin…Respetuhan na lang, pagkakaintindihan at communication po talaga ang kailangan” she added.
(I understand that there are procedures and protocols that we need to follow…Each side needs respect from one another as well as communication.)