Solon calls for House probe into PATAFA over Obiena case

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2021 07:38 PM

Ernest John Obiena Ted Aljibe, AFP/File
Ernest John Obiena clears the bar in the men's pole vault athletics event at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in the athletics stadium in Clark City on December 7, 2019. Ted Aljibe, AFP/File

MANILA -- A lawmaker has asked the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development to conduct an investigation into the alleged harassment of the Philippine Athletic Track and Field Association (PATAFA) against Olympian EJ Obiena.

Manila 2nd District Rep. Ronaldo Valeriano, in his resolution released Wednesday, said the House panel should review the rules and the relationships between the Philippine Olympic Committee, national sports associations (NSAs), the athletes, the Philippine Sport Commission (PSC) and other stakeholders under Republic Act No. 6847 or the Philippine Sports Commission Law.

The PATAFA had 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 also confirmed that he was paid.

Valeriano noted in his resolution that PATAFA changed its accusation against Obiena from embezzlement to failure to pay the coach's salary on time after Petrov confirmed he was paid.

“Such accusations of PATAFA are tantamount to harassment, an indication of this NSA's failure to promote his welfare, or worse, even a sabotage of the career of a distinguished national athlete," he said.

Valeriano also said that national athletes have long complained of Philippine Olympic Committee (POC)-accredited NSAs, engaging in endless politicking; not having sustainable development programs; being heavily dependent on government funding and failing to generate private sector support; lacking communications with and support for athletes, among other issues.

“There may be a need to review the rules and the relationships between the POC, NSAs, the athletes, the Philippine Sport Commission and other stakeholders, under Republic Act No. 6847 or the Philippine Sports Commission Law," he said.

Sen. Pia Cayetano's motion to recall the proposed budget of the PSC was earlier approved by the Senate after the PSC's reported "hands-off approach" on the rift between Obiena and PATAFA irked the senator.

This prompted the PSC to condemn the alleged harassment of Obiena.

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