THE Senate late Monday recalled the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) after expressing dismay over its apparent hands-off stance from the controversial rift between Olympian pole vaulter EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).
No senator objected when Senator Pia Cayetano, herself an athlete, made the motion to recall PSC’s budget that they had initially approved at subcommittee level.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who was presiding at the budget hearings late Monday, declared: “The budget of the Philippine Sports Commission is hereby reconsidered, there being no objections to a motion by Senator Cayetano.”
Cayetano drew attention to what she described as the unimaginable pain Obiena is feeling—just when he is busy training to represent the country in international competitions—as a result of the allegations recklessly hurled against him by his NSA [national sports association], demanding he return some P5 million in fees that he allegedly failed to give to his Ukrainian coach.
The coach, however, appeared in a virtual press conference with Obiena on Sunday and said he had been paid fully, expressing concern about the impact of the accusations on his trainee.
An angry Obiena had threatened to retire from sports if the Patafa does not retract its claims and apologize.
After Cayetano made her motion, expressing dismay at PSC’s dismissive move to simply tell Obiena’s camp and the Patafa to “settle it among themselves,” Senators Joel Villanueva, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Richard Gordon agreed with her that sports officials must be called to account for their failure to protect a world-class athlete, with Villanueva calling him “a national treasure.”