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EJ Obiena wants name cleared as senate steps in

EJ Obiena and officials from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association faced each other once more, this time in the Senate on Monday.

And Obiena faced the music again with one goal – “I want my name cleared.”

A senate hearing was deemed necessary between the two parties since the situation has become irreconcilable.

Last month, Obiena backed off from the Philippine Sports Commission-backed mediation process, citing bad faith from the national sports agency. Days later, PATAFA made true to its word in removing Asia’s top pole vaulter from its national team roster, saying that Obiena has already chosen a side.

With no end in sight, senate committee on sports chairman Bong Go called for a truce.

“I urge all the parties to settle their differences amicably,” said Go. “Punan po natin ang pagkukulang.

“The longer the issue drags on, the longer our country is exposed to embarrassment in the international sports arena.”

Jeanette’s Plea

Also dragged into this row was EJ’s mom Jeanette.

PATAFA had also filed a case against their former auditor, saying that she embezzled money from the federation.

On the contrary, Jeanette said that she lent money to PATAFA as EJ was already struggling with finances in Italy.

“Nag-abono po ako ng P600,000 para sa anak ko.

“Dahil po nung panahon po na iyon, nag-follow up po ako sa PATAFA tungkol sa training allowance ni EJ,” recalled Jeanette. “Nung panahon na yun na sabi po sa akin na wala pong pondo ang PATAFA.”

Jeanette then recalled her son staying over the place of Brazilian Thiago Braz.

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In order to give back to Braz, EJ volunteered to do his housework during their days off.

“Nung nandoon po siya sa bahay ni Thiago para po kahit papaano hindi po nakakahiya kay Thiago, naglilinis po si EJ doon sa bakuran nila, naggugupit po siya ng damo, naglilinis ng bahay, naghuhugas nga plato para hindi po nakakahiya kay Thiago dahil nakikitira siya doon at that time.”

Still Part of the Pool

Despite their statement that said that they are moving on from EJ, PATAFA chairman Rufus Rodriguez made a couple of things clear.

Firstly, they are still open to mediation. More importantly, EJ was still part of their team.

“We have been waiting for this,” said Rodriguez. “We would like to go even tomorrow for mediation.

“Our decision to expel has been rescinded because there was a mediation before, and so far, he is not expelled.”

PATAFA president Popoy Juico, meanwhile, has no regrets.

“This is nothing personal,” he said. “It all started with a report and it is our duty as part of our stewardship to do something about it.

“Dapat ba what I should have done when I received the report was just to keep quiet and buried under the rug?”

Senate’s Advice

As the hearing reached its fifth hour, the senators of the land gave their own recommendations as to how EJ and PATAFA could move on from this mess.

“Gusto ko lang ipaabot kay Mr. Philip Juico at EJ Obiena na sana maramdaman niyo kung gaano kabigat at napaka-imporante ng issue na ito.

“Kaming lahat ng mga senador ay nagkakaisa na sana ma-areglo na ito para matapos na ang lahat,” pleaded Bato Dela Rosa.

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“Would that be a better position to fix the ruptured relationship by reinstating EJ to the training pool? For the relationship to be fixed, it would have to emanate first from the reinstatement,” demanded Tol Tolentino.

“Whether or not there was a proper liquidation or if COA (Commission on Audit) rules complied is within the jurisdiction of COA,” said Franklin Drilon. “We cannot tell COA to stop investigating. Not even the Congress, or Mr. Juico or even the President of this republic can say, ‘Wag mong imbestigahan yan.'”

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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