Senate OKS motion to recall PH Sports Commission budget over Obiena case

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Posted at Nov 23 2021 12:05 AM

Ernest John Obiena reacts during the Pole Vault Men competition of the ISTAF INDOOR (Internationales Stadionfest) international athletics meeting on February 5, 2021 in Berlin. File photo. Tobias Schwarz, AFP.
Ernest John Obiena reacts during the Pole Vault Men competition of the ISTAF INDOOR (Internationales Stadionfest) international athletics meeting on February 5, 2021 in Berlin. File photo / Tobias Schwarz, AFP.

MANILA - Sen. Pia Cayetano's motion to recall the proposed budget of the Philippine Sports Commission was approved by the Senate on Monday.

Cayetano said that she filed her motion "because of the case of our Olympian, EJ Obiena, who has brought much pride and glory to this country."

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) reportedly 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 holds the national and Asian records in the pole vault, vehemently denied the allegations, showing documents proving that he already paid Petrov's salary in full. He also demanded an apology.

Petrov meanwhile confirmed he was paid.

"Ang sa akin lang po, this is a young man with a beautiful career ahead of him. Anyone who has ever tried to participate in sports can just imagine the emotional and mental anguish that this young boy is going through because of these accusations of PATAFA, where the coach himself is saying binayaran naman siya," Cayetano said.

The PSC's reported "hands-off approach" on the matter irked the senator.

"Sabi lang nila, 'Work it out.' How can you do that to your national athlete? Work it out? Pakialaman mo naman. Bigyan mo naman ng halaga ang ating national athlete na inakusahan na lang ng ganun ganun na lang. Wala pang basis, because no less than the coach said that he has been paid," Cayetano said.

"Ilan ang athlete ng PATAFA na naparating na nila sa Olympics? I think it’s just EJ Obiena. So don’t you think this guy at least deserves to be treated with respect? There’s nothing that can be done to take away the shame and the embarrassment and the stress that was put upon this athlete as he is training right now and having to deal with all this," she stressed.

Obiena has filed a counter-complaint with the Philippine Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and World Athletics against PATAFA.

The POC said it will refer his complaint regarding the country's athletics federation to its ethics committee, and an investigation will follow suit.

The PATAFA meanwhile said it intends to pursue its investigation into Obiena.

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