POC chief questions PATAFA’s decision to exclude EJ Obiena from national pool

EJ Obiena is still not part of the pole-vaulting national team (Tobias Schwarz/AFP)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino has been wondering why the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is still not reinstating Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena back in the national pool.

Despite clinching two gold medals during the Orlen Cup and the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Poland in just a span of two weeks, PATAFA headed by chief Philip Juico still didn’t put Obiena’s name in their final list of members of the PH team.

During another forum of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA), the PATAFA group confirmed that the former Olympian was not included in the list of national players despite the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam nearing.

“How many more gold medals should EJ win for him to be reinstated in the national pool?” said Tolentino of POC.

It is still obvious that PATAFA and Obiena are still not in good terms after their back-and-forth spat during the past months.

PATAFA and Juico recently accused Obiena of false liquidations regarding the money sent to him for the coach’s fee of his trainer Vitaly Petrov that led to his expulsion from the national team.

Meanwhile, both the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) expressed their support towards Obiena when he chose to hire his own legal team and fire back against the national sports association, showing dismay of PATAFA’s actions and how they handled the situation.

The POC recently approved the decision of Juico to be put as persona non grata and confirmed that they will provide aide to Obiena if he will represent the country in the 2022 SEAG and the Asian Games.

“If the SEA Games and even the Asian Games are held tomorrow, EJ will easily sweep the gold medals in both competitions. It’s crystal clear, EJ is a guaranteed gold winner in both,” Tolentino added.