MANILA, Philippines -- Olympic boxer Eumir Felix Marcial on Wednesday expressed his support for embattled pole vaulter EJ Obiena, who has been dropped from the national team pool by his own federation.
On his Facebook account, Marcial said that Obiena had supported him during his journey to the Tokyo Olympics, when the boxer also experienced funding issues.
"Ngayon ako naman ang susuporta sa 'yo," said Marcial, whose post was shared by Obiena on his verified Facebook account.
"With the current issue surrounding my fellow Tokyo 2020 Olympian EJ Obiena, I feel that it is only right as a fellow athlete and Olympian that I express my support and collectively ask to show our solidarity with EJ," he added.
Obiena, the lone Asian to make the pole vault finals in the Tokyo Olympics, is set to be dropped from the national training pool after an investigation by PATAFA found that he had misappropriated funds. The national sports association (NSA) also intends to file a criminal complaint of estafa against him.
Obiena has said he is ready to face all the charges against him, calling the PATAFA's actions a "witch hunt."
"The decision of the PATAFA committee to remove EJ from the national pool, I feel, was some sort of an invalidation of the efforts and sacrifices that EJ has made to bring honor to our country, something that every athlete can strongly relate to," Marcial said.
"This unfortunate situation has affected his focus in his training, costing him so much of his time, energy, and resources instead of pouring all his attention to his preparations for his upcoming season and tournaments," he added.
Obiena has been backed by the Philippine Olympic Committee, who vowed to continue endorsing the athlete so he can continue to represent the country.
Marcial assured his fellow Olympian that he also has the support of "many of our countrymen."
"Trust that it will all fall into place and God's favor will be upon you. Mabuhay ka at ang lahat ng atletang Pilipinong lumalaban para mai-representa at mabigyan ng karapat-dapat na karangalan ang bansa," said Marcial.