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Athletics athletes, coaches throw support for PATAFA

National athletes and coaches have signed a manifesto throwing their support for the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association in its dispute against star pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

In letters furnished by ABS-CBN News signed last Monday, 26 athletes and 11 coaches signed separate letters showing their support for the national sports agency and its president Philip Juico, saying that “the truth must prevail.”

Obiena has been accused by PATAFA of not liquidating the salary of his head coach Vitaly Petrov over the past three years.

“Maraming nangyari, maraming sinabi pero pinili naming manahimik,” opened the letter. “Ngunit sa aming pananahimik tila mas sumikat ang kasinungalingan kaysa katotohanan. Kaya ngayon, magsalita na kaming mga atleta ng bayan.

“Naging kumplikado at naging political ang issue. Ang totoo ay lahat kaming mga atleta ay binibigyan ng financial support mula sa buwis ng taumbayan. Kapalit nito ay ang responsibilidad na ginamit naming ito ng tama sa pamamagitan ng liquidation. Ang maayos at mabilis na pag-liquidate ay isang simpleng paraan para maipakita namin ang pasasaslamat sa taumbayan,” it continued.

“Hindi kailanman naging dahilan at ginawang dahilan ang liquidation upang mabawasan ang aming galing bilang mga atleta. Ang dapat lang namin gawin ay mag-liquidate ng mabuti.”

Signing the manifesto are athletes Clinton Bautista, Janry Ubas, Aries Toledo, Mico Del Prado, Bejoy Bernalyn, Melvin Calano, Daniela Daynata, Sarah Dequinan, Harry Diones, Melissa Escoton, Edwin Giron, Junel Gobotia, Josefa Ligmayo, Anfernee Lopena, Jessel Lumapas, Ronnie Malipay, John Albert Mantua, Mariano Masano, Eloisa Medina, Francis Medina Jelly Paragile, Frederick Ramirez, Richard Salano, Joyme Sequita, and Jerald Zabala.

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Coaches also signing on were Jojo Posadas, Eduardo Buenavista, Jeoffrey Chua, Dario de Rosas, Joebert Delicano, John Philip Duenas, Arniel Ferrera, Danilo Fresnido, Sean Guevarra, John Lozada, and Julius Nierras.

On the other hand, past track stars Elma Muros, Isidro Del Prado, and Hector Begeo lamented that “stardom” does not equate to “disrespecting” the federation.

“We are writing from our conscience and from our desire to confirm the truth amidst all the misjudgments hurled against our former association, PATAFA and its leaders,” the letter of Muros, Del Prado, and Begeo read. “We are here in support of our PATAFA leaders to defend this ‘eye-opener of events’ that have been unfolding these past months, for the betterment of sports, particularly athletics in our country.

“We have brought glory to our country in our prime days, in the peak of our careers, and carried the Philippine colors in the international arena of sports, particularly in track and field. It is with sadness that superstardom as an athlete has been made ‘license’ for disrespect for authority, for dishonest dealing with money matters when liquidation has been part of our athletes’ life,” it continued.

“On our part, stardom is no excuse, and has never been an excuse, to downplay the truth for all to know.”

The PATAFA board recommended the ouster of Obiena from the national team.

EJ and his mother Jeanette, auditor of PATAFA, were also being sued for estafa while EJ’s coach Vitaly Petrov has been banished from the federation as well. PATAFA booster Jim Lafferty has also been declared as a persona non-grata.

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