Ping Lacson slams ‘sports politics’ behind Patafa-Obiena feud

Mar 15, 2022
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(Right) EJ Obiena at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
PHOTO: (From Left) PingLacson.net, Associated Press

FOR PRESIDENTIAL candidate Ping Lacson, the ongoing rift between top pole vaulter EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) may be a signal that some kind of “mechanism” needs to be set up to make national sports associations more accountable for failing to nurture their athletes.

“So much taxpayers' money goes to our sports bodies to do one job: make sure we develop our athletes and give them the opportunity to represent us especially in international competitions,” said the senator in an interview published in his personal website.

Though they are private entities, national sports associations like Patafa receive some financial support from the Philippine Sports Commission, which is under the Office of the President. (To learn more about the difference of roles between the PSC, the Philippine Olympic Committee, and the individual sports associations, tap here to read our guide.)

Lacson added: “Clearly something went wrong in EJ's case and we Filipinos are sadly paying the price.”

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On Sunday, when the top-ranking pole vaulter announced on social media that he could not join the World Athletics Indoor Championship because he wasn’t endorsed by Patafa, Lacson tweeted, “EJ Obiena: a case of missed opportunity because of sports politics. Sayang.”

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    On the interview, Lacson explained his stand.

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    "Unacceptable! We just threw away a golden opportunity to showcase our world-class talent — all because we cannot get our acts together," he said.

    Lacson continued, "I am sure we Filipinos can accept losing in a fair competition. What we cannot accept is being denied the opportunity to compete in the first place.”

    He also compared Obiena’s situation to the plight of talented STEM specialists in the country.

    "We have so many homegrown talents, whether they be in science and technology or sports. But we simply don't maximize their talents and instead allow them to go abroad. When they succeed there, we can only feel regret for not supporting them earlier.”

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    (Right) EJ Obiena at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
    PHOTO: (From Left) PingLacson.net, Associated Press
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