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PBA PARTY-LIST SLAMS PATAFA FOR DROPPING OBIENA

The Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list on Tuesday slammed the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) over the organization’s decision to drop Olympic pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena from its national training pool.

“This is not how we treat our athletes, especially those who show great potential! The other sports organizations should learn from the PATAFA’s handling of this situation because it is the perfect example of how not to treat our athletes,” PBA Party-list spokesperson Atty. Migs Nograles said.

Based on their findings, PATAFA concluded that Obiena had “misappropriated the amount of 61,026.80 euros… which were released to him by the PATAFA and the Philippine Sports Commission as payment for the coaching fee of Mr. Petrov.”

“Hindi ko alam if this is PATAFA’s way of retaliating for the Philippine Olympic Committee’s declaration of Mr. Juico as persona non grata, but this is bordering on bullying, if not outright harrassment. Kawawa ang atheletes natin,” she added.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) previously declared PATAFA chief Philip Juico as persona non grata over his public spat with Obiena.

Nograles said she won’t be surprised if Obiena decides to quit playing for the Philippines altogether and instead opt to play for another country.

“As early as November, we have been saying na don’t let EJ Obiena become another Wesley So. At sa ginagawang ito ng PATAFA, hindi talaga malayong gumaya si EJ kay Wesley, and if that happens, PATAFA has only itself to blame,” she said.

“It will be a big loss to Philippine athletics if EJ Obiena decides to play for another country. Hindi pa ba tayo natuto sa naging experience ni Wesley So? Kulang pa ba na panghihinayang ‘yong naging kawalan niya sa atin?” she stressed. “The PATAFA’s mishanding of this situation will only demoralize our athletes and make them lose motivation.”

In a press conference, the PATAFA unveiled the results of its investigation into Obiena’s alleged non-payment of coaching fees to his coach, Ukrainian Vitaly Petrov, as well as his falsification of liquidation documents.

Nograles said she won’t be surprised if Obiena decides to quit playing for the Philippines altogether and instead opt to play for another country.

Based on their findings, PATAFA concluded that Obiena had “misappropriated the amount of 61,026.80 euros… which were released to him by the PATAFA and the Philippine Sports Commission as payment for the coaching fee of Mr. Petrov.”

Given their findings, the PATAFA committee recommended that Obiena be dropped from the national training pool, effective immediately. PATAFA also intends to file a criminal complaint of estafa against Obiena over the amount of 6,000 euros, which were supposed to cover Petrov’s coaching fee from the period of May 2018 to August 2018.

Obiena, however, has denied the allegations against him, filing formal complaints with the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee), IOC (International Olympic Committee), and World Athletics. The Tokyo Olympian has also stressed that he does not consider the allegations “a betrayal from my country,” but rather a betrayal “by certain people.”

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