PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham N. Tolentino has ordered their ethics committee to probe into the controversy involving Tokyo Olympian pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
“We are in deepest regret to realize that one of our Olympians, multi-medalist and great inspiration Ernest John Obiena of athletics, to be involved in this squabble with his home federation,” said Mr. Tolentino.
The PhilCycling chief said losing the 25-year-old Mr. Obiena to retirement would deal Philippine sports a big blow.
“I am very disappointed. They could have handled the situation internally absent of any misfires from both parties. A bountiful career is now in peril,” said the congressman from Tagaytay City.
The Southeast Asian Games, Asian record-holder and World No. 5 threatened to quit if PATAFA would not issue a public apology and retract accusations that the former allegedly falsified liquidations and failed to pay Ukrainian mentor Vitaly Petrov his coaching fees.
Mr. Obiena flatly denied all these.
“Needless to say, we, Filipinos, will be deprived of two gold medals in the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in 2022 and in Cambodia 2023, not to mention another one in the Asian Games also next year and most importantly, a representation in the Paris Olympics come 2024, due to the fiasco in the leadership of his organization,” said Mr. Obiena.
“We could have easily propagated this achievement to the youth by proper guidance and genuine attitude,” he added.
The issue may also cause Philippine sports the loss of its 2022 funding after the Senate recalled on Monday night the P1.574-billion 2022 allocation to sports after showing dismay over the hands-off stance by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) regarding the impasse.
“Since the PSC is the source of funds, it could have easily — under its mandate — intervened and corrected the same from the very beginning,” said Mr. Tolentino. “But we in the POC will be steadfast and for the sake of Olympism and impartiality, will go into the details and investigate the matter.”
The STAR tried to get the side of PSC Chairman William Ramirez but has yet to reply at press time. — Joey Villar