EJ Obiena hits out at PATAFA anew for 'shifting allegations'

EJ Obiena hits out at PATAFA anew for 'shifting allegations'

EJ Obiena once again had some choice words to PATAFA. Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—EJ Obiena called out the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association once again for "shifting allegations" on him.

In a statement on Tuesday, Obiena said that he is puzzled why PATAFA is now accusing him of paying Coach Vitaly Petrov late.

Earlier in the week, PATAFA publicized that it is demanding Obiena to return 85,000 euros (around PHP4.8 million) worth of unpaid salaries to Petrov.

But Petrov joined Obiena in an online press conference from Fornia, Italy saying that he has already been paid in full.

"I am personally shocked at the recent statement and shifting allegations of PATAFA. From their written letters accusing me of embezzlement; to suddenly changing it to timing of payments? PATAFA accused me, in writing, of committing serious crimes of embezzlement and outright 'theft' of monies intended for my coach, Vitaly Petrov. After Vitaly himself appeared live in the press conference on November 20, refuting these allegations, now they suddenly change the written accusations. Instead of admitting they were wrong, they now change the subject: now, the issue is, apparently, I perhaps did not pay Petrov 'on time'. That's a long way from embezzlement and theft that they accused me of," Obiena said.

The Filipino pole vaulting star, however, admitted that he has been struggling in organizing the needed documents especially to show that he has been fulfilling his duties in paying Petrov up.

"I am sometimes late on the paperwork, and I mix up the order of what needs to be done first. I lose track of papers and transfers from time to time and I can't reorganize and audit everything while I am busy competing for the country during the season," Obiena said.

Despite all of these, he reiterated that there is no reason to vilify him for the late payments if there are some instances.

"I am not a lawyer, but as far as I know, paying late isn't a crime," continued Obiena, who insisted during the Sunday night presser that he paid his coach on time.

He has then stood firm on consideration legal actions to this impasse.

"I will clear my name. I will raise all legal challenges and I want this to be put into a court of law where all evidence must be exposed," Obiena vowed.

However, he added that he is open to put the issue into rest as long as he should be cleared of everything he has been accused of.

"I am willing to 'make peace' on this case but I must have my good name cleared," Obiena further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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