PSC chief wants signatures on mediation papers—and he has half a billion reasons for that
MANILA, Philippines–Days after getting EJ Obiena to agree to mediation, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chair Butch Ramirez urged the pole vault star to sign papers that could trigger the start of the process.
Saying “mediation was the only way” to settle the controversy, Ramirez said without signatures of the parties involved, it would be difficult to get people to sit at the negotiation table.
“Without humility from both sides as well as generosity, respect and forgiveness, it’s impossible to resolve the dispute even with the expertise of mediation, believe me,’’ said Ramirez during the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s weekly forum on Tuesday.
The Inquirer, quoting Ramirez, said Obiena had already verbally agreed to mediation. The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) has also intimated that it is willing to undergo the process. The two sides are embroiled in a controversy over liquidation of public funds meant for Obiena’s coach, Vitaly Petrov.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has also joined peacemaking efforts by holding off on any further action on the issue upon the request of the PSC.
“We in the POC are also in a ceasefire just like EJ and Patafa,’’ said Tolentino, who is open to holding off ratification proceedings on the body’s ethics committee’s recommendation to declare Patafa president Philip Ella Juico persona non grata.
That recommendation has been tabled for discussion in a general assembly on Jan. 26.
There is much at stake, Ramirez said, for Obiena and the Patafa to mend their rift.
He said Congress has appropriated P515 million for the international competitions of elite athletes this year, including training and participation for the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
“If there is no peace, I will communicate to the Office of the President and to Congress that this money has proper purposes for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the typhoon victims and other Filipinos who are in need of money,’’ said Ramirez.
Ramirez may not even have to go that far as lawmakers have already threatened to freeze the PSC’s share of the national budget if the controversy is not resolved.
“I hope Patafa will take the lead from its chairman and in the same manner Obiena, while listening to his lawyers and consultants, must understand that we are helping him because the PSC exists for the athletes,’’ said Ramirez.
Ramirez also asked Obiena, a Tokyo Olympian and the Asian record holder of the sport, to stay grounded amid his rise in the world rankings (No. 6), adding that “without humility you won’t go very far.”
Ramirez promised fair proceedings during the mediation, for which the PSC hired the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. Ramirez will head the mediating panel, along with lawyers of the PDRC and the PSC’s executive director, lawyer Guillermo Iroy.
Ramirez has said mediation will not be a fault-finding process, adding that Obiena’s case as alleged by the Patafa will be reviewed and all papers scrutinized by the PSC and the Commission on Audit (COA). Sources said both bodies already have copies of Obiena’s liquidation and it is only a matter of matching up the dates of the entries with actual release and payment of the financial assistance.
“Only the PSC accounting office and the COA will tell us if there’s a problem. They have strict guidelines that should be followed,’’ said Ramirez.