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EJ Obiena names longtime mentor Jim Lafferty, Bobbet Bruce as spokesmen

EJ Obiena has named his new spokesmen while tapping a law firm to help him take legal actions amid his row with PATAFA. Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--From now on, two of EJ Obiena's close connections might be speaking on his behalf as the drama surrounding him and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association continues.

Obiena announced on Sunday night that he has named Jim Lafferty and Bobbet Bruce as his spokesmen ahead of a mediation set by the Philippine Sports Commission between the reigning Southeast Asian Games pole vaulting champion and PATAFA.

Obiena first thanked Lafferty, who has been his longtime mentor, for stepping into his defense especially when some new critics have emerged amid his row with PATAFA stemming from an alleged non-payment of salaries to his coach Vitaly Petrov.

"I would first like to thank my longtime mentor and friend, Mr. Jim Lafferty who has taken up the cudgels for me again and defended me in public like I was his own blood," Obiena said.

He then thanked Bruce, "who has made himself available to me even at the unholiest hours in Manila even if only just to check up on me to make sure that I am alright, reminding me to continue training despite all the distractions and to continue fighting the good fight as this is not just for me but for the country."

Although PSC chairman Butch Ramirez has stepped in to potentially be the peacemaker that would bury the hatchet between Obiena and PATAFA without going through legal actions, Obiena has still decided to hire a legal team.

"I have officially engaged Atty. Alex Avisado and the Gana Tan Atienza Avisado Law Offices as my legal counsel to represent me in all current and future investigations including the filing of any possible and appropriate civil, criminal, and administrative actions," Obiena announced.

"Atty. Alex Avisado... is advising me on the twist and turns of this unending and ever so changing issue," Obiena explained why he tapped Avisado's law firm.

Obiena then thanked his supporters for staying with him in these "exceedingly tough times."

"I am indebted to you all," he further said.

Whether this could be Obiena's final public statement amid the row remains to be seen even as the PSC has placed a moratorium on both him and PATAFA to stop releasing statements while resolving their feud.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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