“I am always willing to compete for the flag and the country I love with my entire being.”
Pole vault olympian Ernest John “EJ” Obiena released a statement after the investigative committee of Philippine Athletics Track and Field (PATAFA) recommended his expulsion from the national team on Tuesday.
“I am saddened by the decision of the PATAFA committee and their recommendations but I am not really surprised. I am relieved that I now finally know what I am being charged with. From the very start, the PATAFA proceeding had the look and feel of a witch hunt. My legal team can now go about the business of clearing my name and my family’s name,” the 26-year-old Tokyo olympian said via a Facebook post. “Righteousness always wins in the end.”
See post below for his full statement.
Meanwhile, the Philippines Olympian Committee (POC) came to the defense of the Obiena. POC president Abraham Tolentino reaffirmed his support for the pole vault star and called PATAFA’s move a “vengeful act.”
“I expected EJ will be dropped from the national team by his NSA as a vengeful act,” Tolentino said in a statement Tuesday.
“The action of Mr. Juico in removing EJ Obiena from the National Pool is an expected result of his exposé. A vengeful act that shuts down the chances of the Philippines from its Olympic dream.”
“We in the POC will make sure EJ will be in Hanoi and Huangzhou, and in all other major world competitions, we’ll fight for EJ,” he added.
Netizens expressed their anger via social media at the PATAFA’s decision to drop the Asian record holder.
EJ Obiena is literally ranked #6 in the world! Imagine dropping someone like Roger Federer from the Swiss national tennis team – it’s the same gravity as that! Obiena is one of the best pole vaulters in the world, and this is what PATAFA will do to him??? https://t.co/AwjUwFDkRy— Jecon Dreisbach (@jecondraysbak) January 4, 2022
In the Philippines, this is how you get rewarded for being the World No. 3! Pathetic!— Zeth Lorenzo Samson (@AdobongpuZETH) January 4, 2022
The likes of PATAFA is one of the reasons why Sports will never develop/grow in the Philippines. ?? https://t.co/zRFEPdt9KR
I really won't be shocked kung iba na kulay ng passport ni EJ next olympics. Trash behavior PATAFA https://t.co/xLk3aoc4Zy— buddy (@maggie_rsls) January 4, 2022
Wesley So and EJ Obiena represent so many Filipinos who wanted to stay in the country but were driven away by the corruption and incompetence.— Gideon Lasco (@gideonlasco) January 4, 2022
i say thank you ej obiena for your nationalism and love for our country but if they will keep on slandering you like this, go ahead and accept the naturalization offers from other countries na. you deserve so much better. we’ll support you! #DropPATAFA #DropJuico— K ? (@iamklhd) January 4, 2022