OLYMPIAN pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena will get to see action in the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) slated for May 12-23 even if he will not be endorsed by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and not funded by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino on Tuesday said during the online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum that Mr. Obiena was listed in the 80 athletes who will finance their own trip to the biennial event just in case the latter would be expelled from the national team.

“There is a provision in the IOC (International Olympic Committee) charter that emphasized the NOC’s (National Olympic Committee) sole authority to submit the delegation proposed by its NSAs (national sports associations) as the final list in all Olympic, regional, continental and world multi-sports events patronized by the IOC,” said Mr. Tolentino.

“It will not only be based from their performance of athletes but also from their ability to serve as an inspiration to others.

“Let him (Mr. Obiena) play,” he added.

Mr. Tolentino’s statements came just a day after Mr. Obiena formally declined the mediation proposed by the Philippine Sports Commission.

And the decision could pave the way for Mr. Obiena’s expulsion from the national squad as PATAFA’s moratorium on delaying the former’s national team removal and filing of estafa case has expired.

Without PATAFA’s endorsement, Mr. Obiena’s funding from the PSC could also be cut.

“That’s why we have a Group B. EJ is part of the 80. If he isn’t endorsed or given funding, the POC will help him and look for private funding,” said Mr. Tolentino.

PSC STATEMENT
Meanwhile, the Philippine Sports Commission has received communication from Mr. Obiena, sent through his lawyer via e-mail, that Mr. Obiena “will no longer participate in the mediation proceedings.”

As mediation requires for the voluntary agreement of both parties for the process to proceed, we inform you that mediation is temporarily on hold.

Despite this development, we maintain our stand that mediation is still the best option to resolve this matter.

Mr. Obiena has submitted his liquidation reports. The PSC’s accounting office and the Commission on Audit shall proceed with their normal post-audit process of checking and verification on submitted liquidation documents. — Joey Villar