PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino will do everything in his power to have World No. 5 pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena see action in the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) set on May 12 to 23.

“Will try but it’s better if both,” said Mr. Tolentino referring to the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s (PATAFA) endorsement.

The statement came after the congressman from Tagaytay questioned the non-inclusion of the Asian record-holder to the 53-member track and field team PATAFA submitted to represent the country in the biennial event.

Mr. Obiena is the hands down favorite to win the SEA Games mint for the second time as he owns the current Asian record of 5.93 meters he set in the Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria last year.

He also recently set the new national indoor mark of 5.91m in the Perche Elite Tour in Rouen, France.

“I can only shake my head, this is horrible,” said Mr. Tolentino. “Barring serious injury, EJ will win the gold medal even blindfolded in Hanoi.

“He’s not only the best in the SEA Games, but in the whole of Asia — not to forget that he’s No. 5 in the world,” he added.

The POC tasked the 39 national sports associations (NSAs) to submit their entries by numbers for the SEA Games on Monday, the deadline set by host Vietnam for the submission of entry by names.

“An NSA relentlessly sanctioning its No. 1 athlete — a guaranteed win and who knows a future world and Olympic champion — I just couldn’t find a logic,” said Mr. Tolentino.

Patafa has the second biggest number of entries with 53 athletes and 17 officials, second only to esports, which fielded in 54 entries.

Mr. Obiena being out of the list meant he will also have to skip the World Indoor Championships slated for March 18 to 20 in Belgrade, Serbia because the World Athletics’s deadline of registration for qualified athletes was last Monday. — Joey Villar