EJ Obiena formalized his return to the national team after getting reinstated by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association and the Philippine Sports Commission.
In a statement, the PSC stressed that Patafa endorsed his reinstatement together with five other athletes to the national team program.
The endorsement was made by Patafa president Terry Capistrano, through Patafa executive vice president Willie Torres, to PSC executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy.
Obiena’s return to the national squad will take effect this month, which means that the government will finally cover his training allowance and payment for his Ukrainian coach, Vitaly Petrov, in Italy.
“We are thankful to the Patafa leadership for taking this step to solidify the strength of our national athletics team,” PSC commissioner Olivia “Bong” Coo, who is also the PSC officer-in-charge, said.
Obiena’s reinstatement is a fitting end to his long-dragging rift with his mother federation that led to his ouster from the national team.
In fact, former PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez even had to step in to mediate between Obiena and Patafa, a controversy that drew the attention of lawmakers.
In the end, a resolution was reached with Patafa agreeing to endorse the Tokyo Olympian in two major international tournaments – the 31st Southeast Asian Games and the World Athletics Championships – while Obiena agreed to apologize to the federation’s board of trustees as well as its athletes and coaches.
Patafa president Philip Ella Juico also stepped down while Obiena expressed willingness to talk to the new chief – Capistrano – to discuss how he can return to the national squad.
Patafa secretary general Edward Kho heaved a sigh of relief, saying that they are putting the issue behind and are moving forward in forming a very strong team for the SEA Games and Asian Games next year.
“Overall, we need to move forward,” he said.
“It has been a very tumultuous episode between Patafa and the people involved. We can’t just go around in circles or else nothing will happen. The issue has been concluded in the mediation so it’s back to zero again. It gives the leadership of Patafa the choice to move forward and that was his decision, which the Patafa board approved.”