PSC suspends plans to mend Obiena-Patafa ties in light of pole vaulter’s latest statement
MANILA, Philippines — After more than a month of waiting for the conflicting parties to sit down together, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) left the mediation table on Monday, but it kept the door ajar for star pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) to mend fences.
“In light of the recent decision of Mr. Ernest John Obiena as posted on his social media account, the Philippine Sports Commission humbly informs the public that we are discontinuing the mediation offer,’’ said the PSC in a statement.
In his post, Obiena said he would await the resolution of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the International Olympic Committee on the harassment case he filed against the Patafa before possibly entering the reconciliatory talks to be brokered by the PSC.
“The agency leaves the mediation table, respecting the decision of Mr. Obiena who chose to submit to procedures conducted by other institutions,’’ the PSC further said.
“We have to underscore that mediation should be the first course of action being the more peaceful, equitable, confidential, voluntary option to resolve issues,’’ added the government sports agency, which has been funding the training of Obiena in Italy.
Obiena actually sees no need for mediation since according to the Tokyo Olympian, he’s already presented the necessary facts regarding Patafa’s allegations toward him.
“After this, what is there to mediate? Every accusation had been refuted. What is left is a clearing of my good name, my full reinstatement, and necessary changes to the system to avoid this situation to ever happen again and avoid this burden being placed on athletes,’’ said Obiena.
The 26-year-old, who now ranks joint seventh in the global rankings along with two world-class vaulters, filed the harassment case against Patafa before the POC ethics committee.
“If after the POC process is final and my payment records are public, there is still a belief in mediation then at that time, I am 100 percent ready to sit down and do so,’’ said Obiena.
POC ethics committee chair Patrick Gregorio said the body has yet to come up with a resolution.
“We need to review the case thoroughly. Maybe we could come up with a decision early next year,’’ said Gregorio.
“The PSC though is keeping its doors open to the process should both parties agree to it in the future,’’ said the PSC statement.
The rift between the national sports association for track and field and its superstar athlete stemmed from Obiena’s late disbursement of salaries to his Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov while they trained in Formia, Italy, in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. According to Patafa, Obiena submitted liquidation reports stating he had paid Petrov before he actually did.
The Patafa asked the prized pole vaulter to return 85,000 euros (over P4.8 million), which represented a major chunk of Petrov’s salary since 2018.
Obiena snapped back at Patafa, pointing out that he had already settled the financial obligation to Petrov in full and emphasized that not paying his coach on time is not a crime.
Petrov backed Obiena by issuing an official statement in a hastily called press conference arranged by the athlete. Obiena is demanding a full and public withdrawal of the investigation and a full public apology from Patafa authorities. INQ