POC includes EJ Obiena in SEA Games roster
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee decided to intervene and included EJ Obiena in the Philippines’ contingent to the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Obiena, the Philippine and Asian record holder, will be part of the 654 athletes in the regional games despite his noninclusion from Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s list.
“EJ’s name must be there,” said POC President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
The sports official added that Obiena, who represented the Philippines in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is almost assured of a gold in the SEA Games.
Obiena holds the Asian and Philippine record at 5.93 meters, nearly half a meter above the SEA Games standard of 5.45m that he himself set in the 2019 edition in New Clark City in Pampanga.
“It’s both frustrating and disappointing if we don’t see EJ setting a new SEA Games record in Hanoi,” said Tolentino. “Logic plays a major role here for the need to include him in the SEA Games list, this is sports and he’s a national sports pride.”
Obiena and Juico have been feuding since November with Patafa alleging the pole vaulter of falsifying liquidation reports of his allowances.
Tolentino added that the POC already communicated with the World Athletics, which running legend Sebastian Coe heads, regarding Obiena’s predicament.
This wasn’t the first time that the POC had to intervene with Patafa’s decisions as it did a similar measure in 1985 when iconic track star Lydia de Vega was kicked out of the national team for the ASEAN Cup at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
De Vega refused to join the national team’s training at Teachers Camp in Baguio City resulting to Patafa chastising her.