WORLD NO. 5 pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena will get funding from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) when he shoots for nothing less than a gold medal in the Hanoi Southeast Asian (SEA) Games slated for May 12 to 23.
The PSC board chaired by William Ramirez decided in its meeting on Wednesday to fund all athletes endorsed by their respective national sports associations to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to represent the country in the biennial games.
And it included the Asian record-holder and SEA Games gold medalist, who was one of the 82 endorsed by POC President Abraham Tolentino, after the former did not get an endorsement from the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
“All athletes and coaches based on the endorsement of POC as initially received and approved by chairman Butch (Ramirez) and the board,” said PSC commissioner and the country’s SEA Games chef de mission.
The development was a boost in the arm to the country’s campaign as Mr. Obiena is a heavy favorite to win the gold in Hanoi being the owner of the Asian mark of 5.93 meters.
In practice, the government sports-funding agency only bankrolls athletes recommended by their NSAs, but the PSC decided to make an exception on this one since a world-class athlete like Mr. Obiena is a special case.
But while the PSC will support all athletes, it may not do so for the more than 300 officials who were in the SEA Games-bound list since it may not have enough money to finance them.
“Officials are for review,” said Mr. Fernandez. — Joey Villar