FILIPINO Olympic pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena confirmed that numerous countries have tendered offers to take him in but he has shunned every single one, claiming that he will stand by the Philippines despite the controversy that he and the national athletics federation has found themselves in.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Obiena said that the statements made by his adviser and mentor, James Lafferty, were indeed true, adding that some of these were made a few years back. However, he said no to these, citing his loyalty to the country as the reason for his decision.
“I, therefore, said ‘no’ several years ago. I love my country. I am proud to compete for the flag of the Philippines. I get chills every time I hear our anthem played and to watch that flag rise high,” read Obiena’s statement.
“I will never abandon my nation because of money. That’s not loyalty. At least not how I define it,” added Obiena.
“Even now, in this current crisis, I have no desire to change nations. I see these statements on social media and active encouragement to switch allegiances. But this is not who I am and why I do this. I want to win for the Philippines and show the world what we can do. I want to win for us,” said Obiena.
Obiena shared that he still has to defend his reputation from the accusations hurled at him by the Patafa (Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association).
“I have realized I may at some point have no option. I cannot accept being accused of false allegations and having my reputation smeared. I know I may at some point be forced into choices I don’t want to make. It seems to be happening a lot lately like defending myself in a rushed presscon. But my goal is focused on winning gold medals for my nation, my country, my flag—The Philippines.
“Speaking of loyalty, this is the foundation of my strong defense of these allegations. When one values loyalty, one cannot comprehend how my own ‘mother organization’ turned on me, never consulted with me, never asked me any questions, never gave me the benefit of the doubt. That’s not loyalty. Again, at least not how I define it,” said Obiena.
“I am fighting to bring honor and glory for my country. Others fight for ego, or power. But that’s not me. I fight for higher principles. Loyalty is a virtue. And loyalty still matters,” said Obiena.