SENATORIAL aspirant Atty. Larry Gadon and
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho “Koko” Nograles have took up the cudgels for Filipino pole vault star Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, stressing he should not take the blame for the problem allegedly created by Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) headed by its President Philip Juico.
“I condemn PATAFA President Philip Juico for shifting the blame to our national athlete, EJ Obiena, for the alleged mess that PATAFA itself created. Now Juico has the gall to file charges against Obiena and besmirch his reputation. The real question is, why didn’t PATAFA do its job and pay the coach directly, instead of coursing the payment to Obiena then blaming Obiena for its accounting? Had PATAFA done its job, this issue would not have arisen and would not have distracted EJ Obiena from his training,” Gadon said.
“Bakit kaya tila inaapi ni Juico si Obiena? Imbes na suportahan ang atleta, kakasuhan pa? Gusto niya bang pumunta si Obiena sa ibang bansa?” Gadon stressed.
“I support our National Athlete EJ Obiena whose coach, Vitaly Petrov, had already cleared him of any wrongdoing in the payment of his coaching fees. We salute you EJ for showing your continued loyalty and dedication to represent our country in the international stage and for making us proud of your achievements which include breaking the Asian Pole Vault Record.
EJ, ipagpatuloy mo lang ang maganda mong ginagawa para sa bayan at alam namin na HINDI KA BOBO,” Gadon added.
NOGRALES URGES PSC TO OVERRULE PATAFA
In a related development, Nograles said the move of PATAFA to remove Obiena from the national pool should be overruled by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) because this is an alleged violation of the Constitution.
Nograles, who is the vice chair of the House committee on youth and sports development, also called on the PSC to come in and support Obiena “otherwise, the Republic will be robbed of possible gold medals from the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan, SEA Games in Vietnam, Asian Games in China, World Championships in Oregon.”
Nograles said that the brouhaha brought about by the actions of Juico against the world’s number 3 pole vaulter is a big disgrace for the Republic, especially the sporting community, and has imperiled the country’s gold campaign in various international athletic competitions.
“Because of this mess, we have already been robbed of a possible competition medal this January. The PSC should not allow PATAFA to jeopardize our sports programs because of personal pride. The national interest must always come first when it comes to sports,” he added.
Nograles insisted that PSC should take action and stop being a fence-sitter as this can have a demoralizing effect on the country’s national athletes.
“Juico has done much for sports, but maybe he should retire and just give EJ Obiena his a once-in-lifetime medal run. Obiena and national glory should be protected at all costs. The PSC should exercise its mandate as provided under the Law and protected by the Constitution,” Nograles said.
Nograles stressed that under Section 19, Article XIV of the Philippine Constitution, it was clearly provided that the State shall encourage sports competitions which prompted the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 6847 that created the PSC “as a single, unified and integrated national sports policy-making body.”
In the same Law, Nograles said PATAFA as a National Sports Association is subject to supervisory and visitorial powers of the Commission, Nograles noted.
“Again, the same Law clearly delineates that the primary responsibility of the Philippine Olympic Committee is our country’s participation in international sports competitions and not PATAFA. With the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) announcing that Obiena is the recognized athlete to compete on behalf of the Republic, the PATAFA order should be disregarded,” Nograles said.
Nograles added that the PSC should overturn the decision of the PATAFA because apart from the fact that this is contrary to its Constitutional mandate, the Philippines does not have any other gold medal contender in pole vault other than Obiena.