By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
“Loyalty is a virtue.”
That was what pole vaulter EJ Obiena said even as he stressed that he has no plans of switching allegiance and changing federations despite the dispute he has with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).
In a lengthy social media post, the 26-year-old Tokyo Olympian said his goal is focused on winning gold medals for the country.
“Even now, in this current crisis, I have no desire to change nations,” Obiena wrote.
“I take pride and joy to win (for the country). I will never abandon my nation because of money. That’s not loyalty. At least not how I define it.”
The subject floated on social media a few days ago after Obiena’s adviser and spokesperson Jim Lafferty disclosed in an interview that several nations have offered the elite athlete lucrative pay packages to compete for their flag.
Obiena confirmed these statements and said he declined these offers.
“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,” he said.
The Philippine and Asian record holder also emphasized that loyalty has become his foundation for his defense from allegations of misuse of government funds that Patafa has hurled at him.
“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,” he said.