We write relative to an article written about pole vaulter EJ Obiena in the Lifestyle section of your well-read newspaper, The Philippine STAR. It was authored by Mr. James Michael Lafferty and was entitled “How the Philippines can win Olympic Gold for the bargain price of P223,189.”


While we very much appreciate the attention given to sports in general and the opportunity to occupy print space dedicated to our field, we also wish to clarify and/or correct some glaringly erroneous points, to wit:


Issue 1: His allowance was “unceremoniously” cut to P12,000 from P21,000 after he got an ACL tear and missed the 2017 SEAG.


Our records show, that despite existing policies, his situation and potential were considered and EJ continued to receive P21,000 monthly allowance.


This was actually increased to P33,000 (effective May 10).


We also reimbursed P150,000 to cover expenses for EJ’s ACL tear treatment. This was released to EJ through PATAFA on 24 January 2019.


Issues 2 and 3: He “somehow travels to meets, borrowing money from family and donations out of pocket of gems like Philip Ella Juico, the president of PATAFA who pays from his own money in the absence of formal support.”


“He is on his own to keep training in Italy with Petrov, who is working for free in training EJ.”


P3,176,250 funding was approved by the board (8 Jan 2019, BR#048-2019) for EJ’s one-year training in Formia, Italy. This includes coaching fee for 12 months.


A total of P3,143,887.50 was given as financial assistance (BR #s 539-2019 and 537-20190 to send the athletic team (including EJ) to the 23rd Asian Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar.


Recently approved his P202,000 reimbursements for his 2019 Taiwan International Pole Vault Championships.


National Sports Associations like the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association or PATAFA are the direct authority supervising the training and technical preparations of athletes like EJ. They have their own by-laws, and should also have their own funds, aside from the funds they get from government. When it gives funding support, the PSC releases these to NSAs, in this case PATAFA.


Our records show that PATAFA received P15,263,308.12 financial support in 2018. This year they have received P12,963,240.78 already in just the first four months of 2019 alone.


Issue 4: “P233,189 bare bones budget”


Basing on the one year training budget alone, EJ is receiving P264,687.50 monthly financial assistance. This is P41,498.50 more than the “bare bones budget” that was cited in the article. This does not yet include the monthly allowance EJ is receiving, and other assistance given to him as part of the athletic team (competition expenses, medical and sports science support, nutrition support, etc.)


Issue 5: “Where is the money?”


As shown in the aforementioned information, the Philippine government through the PSC, has been very supportive of EJ Obiena. The monetary support that could be given has consistently been provided this potential Olympic gold medalist, as is also provided to other potentials like Hidilyn Diaz (also mentioned in the article).


We understand that not everyone would know these informations, which is why we are forwarding these to you for clarity. While the article did not name the PSC directly, people in the sporting world would ultimately connect our agency with the insinuations in Mr. Lafferty’s story.


We wish Mr. Lafferty took time to verify the information before writing such a damaging article. The online edition of this write-up was shared and re-shared on social media, negatively impacting and maligning this humble government office.


The damage has been done, but trusting in your newspaper’s promise of objective journalism as beautifully captured in your slogan “the truth shall prevail” we hope that, just as space was given to this article peppered with unverified information, these facts we submit may also see print to correct wrong information that was put across. We will be awaiting further action from your side regarding this matter.


Should any of your writers need to validate data in the future, we at the PSC are open to provide them necessary information in order to deliver correct and verified information to your reading public.


Maraming salamat po! — Emmalyn P. Bamba, Head, Public Communications Office, PSC




Date: May 22, 2019 | Newspaper: Philippine Star | Source: https://www.philstar.com/other-sections/letters-to-the-editor/2019/05/22/1919815/psc-clarification