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PBA PARTY-LIST: REINSTATE OBIENA’S TRANING FUNDS

The Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list urged the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) to reinstate the training funds allocated for Olympic pole vaulter Earnest John Obiena while allegations over the athlete’s supposedly “falsified liquidations submitted” to the federation is investigated.

PBA Party-list spokesperson Atty. Migs Nograles made the call after Obiena admitted during a House hearing that his funding has been frozen due to the controversy, something that PATAFA threatened it would do when it sent memos to the pole vaulter regarding the alleged nonpayment of his famed Ukrainian coach, Vitaly Petrov.

During the House hearing, Obiena told lawmakers that he received his allowances late, sometimes by several months.

“In light of the revelations of Mr. Obiena that a lot of his financial assistance were transmitted to him late, which in turn caused the delays in his payments to Coach Petrov, the prudent thing for PATAFA to do would be to unfreeze EJ’s training funds pending the investigation of the allegations made against him,” Nograles said.

“We cannot risk derailing the progress of EJ, who has been a shining star in the field of pole vaulting this year. To hamper his training would be unfair to a star athlete who has been given nothing but honor to our country,” she added.

The Davaoeña lawyer stressed that EJ has already proven that he has not misappropriated any of the funds given to him to pay for Petrov’s salary.

“Even Coach Petrov himself has testified that he has received his payment in full. That, coupled with the fact that remittances to EJ were given to him late, should be enough to reinstate EJ’s allowances and other funding for his training,” she said.

“Sana hindi natin tanggalin ang suporta natin sa ating atleta na malaki ang potential na maging dakila sa kanyang larangan,” stressed.

“How will he pay for his living and training expenses if his funding has been cut off? Hayaan na lang ba nating magutom si EJ sa Italy?” she added.

During the House hearing, Obiena told lawmakers that he received his allowances late, sometimes by several months.

“To hamper his training would be unfair to a star athlete who has been given nothing but honor to our country.”

The star athlete also asked lawmakers to “examine the system” within the National Sports Associations (NSAs), especially with the way these federations handle finances.

Nograles previously called for the standardization of payroll and accounting procedures of national sports associations (NSAs), especially in the payment of foreign coaching staff, after two NSAs revealed that it is not standard practice within their own federations to get their athletes involved in the financial side of their operations.

The PATAFA had coursed their payment for Petrov through the athlete. The athletics body has accused Obiena of failing to pay Petrov and falsifying liquidation reports.

Nograles had also urged the Philippine Sports Commission to resolve the issue between Obiena and PATAFA quickly, saying “the only one at the losing end here as the issue drags on is EJ.”

“The PSC should step in and take charge of the investigation. Kawawa ‘yong bata. Napakalaki ng potential niya, malayo pa ang mararating niya,” she had said.

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