Solon wants to defund PATAFA over Obiena row

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2022 02:04 PM

Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines carries his national flag after winning the Men's Pole Vault final of the SEA Games 2019 at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium in New Clark City, Philippines 07 December 2019. Rolex dela Peña, EPA-EFE
Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines carries his national flag after winning the Men's Pole Vault final of the SEA Games 2019 at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium in New Clark City, Philippines 07 December 2019. Rolex dela Peña, EPA-EFE

MANILA, Philippines -- Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles has urged the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to defund the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

This, as he deplored the national sports association's decision not to endorse star pole vaulter EJ Obiena for international events, including the upcoming World Indoor Championship in Belgrade, Serbia.

Obiena, who is currently ranked fifth in the world, revealed in an emotional social media post over the weekend that he will miss the competition as the PATAFA has refused to endorse him. 

The pole vaulter has been locked in a feud with the NSA since November 2021 due to funding, with the PATAFA accusing Obiena of estafa as well as falsification of documents. The PATAFA dropped Obiena from its national team pool as well, putting his participation in international events -- including the upcoming Southeast Asian Games -- in peril.

Nograles said that PATAFA's actions denied the country a medal in the World Indoor Championships, and proved that the association is not after the best interest of the Philippines.

"This action of PATAFA only shows that its existence is not for the best interest of Philippine sports. The PSC should stop funding PATAFA and direct all support to individual athletes," he said in a statement.

"PATAFA has lost all the moral right to represent the Philippines as an NSA because of its action against Obiena. We are just wasting taxpayers' money on PATAFA," he added.

Nograles also appealed to other foundations and private institutions that are providing funds to PATAFA to direct their support to individual track and field athletes and stop coursing their donations to the NSA.

He also urged other government institutions like the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to stop giving any support for PATAFA.

"Go straight to the athletes, and stop funding PATAFA," Nograles said.

Nograles said that the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) should also make a representation for the Philippines to appeal to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Asian Athletics Association (AAA), which are the two main international governing bodies in the field of athletics and track and field, to appeal for Obiena's case.

Obiena holds the Philippine and Asian record in pole vault, having cleared 5.93 meters in September 2021 at the Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria.

He set a season-best of 5.91-meters in Rouen, France earlier this month, a new indoor record for the Philippines that also secured him a second place finish in the Perche Elite Tour.

The PATAFA has yet to issue a statement on the latest development involving Obiena. The association has just recently concluded its performance trials, where national athletes looked to qualify for the SEA Games.