MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will refer EJ Obiena's complaint regarding the country's athletics federation to its ethics committee, and an investigation will follow suit.
This, according to POC president Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino who assured that he is well aware of the situation regarding Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
It was reported on Sunday by the Philippine Daily Inquirer that PATAFA has ordered Obiena to return a sum of 85,000 euros, alleging that the pole vaulter did not pay the money to his coach, Vitaly Petrov. The federation also accused Obiena of falsifying his liquidation reports.
Obiena, who denied the accusations, said he has filed a counter-complaint with the POC, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and World Athletics against PATAFA.
"I've also filed and am filing formal complaints with the POC, IOC, and World Athletics, as we are now talking slander and defamation of character. I have retained legal counsel, and I do intend to pursue this vigorously," Obiena said.
In a message to ABS-CBN News, Tolentino said they will refer Obiena's complaints to their ethics committee.
"We will… have it investigated agad and wait for their recommendation," said Tolentino. "Then, (we will) elevate it to the IOC."
Tolentino also said he has been in communication with Obiena, even before the issue came to light on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has left the matter up to PATAFA and Obiena.
"For now, let us allow PATAFA and EJ to sort the matter internally within their NSA (national sports association), as it should be," PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez said in a message to Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN News.
PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico, for his part, has asked that the federation's investigative committee be allowed to fulfill their task.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer's report, PATAFA had formed a committee to investigate the matter involving Obiena.
"The PATAFA-created investigating committee is looking into it and I'd like to defer them to respect their prerogative and credibility," Juico told Castillejo. "I'm just here to ensure that sports and athletics are used for the good and to help transform and bring out the best in the Filipino youth."
Obiena has admitted that he is mulling retirement, as the current situation has adversely affected him and his training. Tolentino, however, is still hoping for a resolution.
Obiena was one of the 19 athletes who represented the Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics, where he finished 11th in the pole vault. In September, he set a new national and Asian record in the event with a leap of 5.93-meters in Austria.
Obiena is also a Southeast Asian Games champion in the pole vault and is tipped to be a gold medal contender for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China next year.