EJ Obiena withdraws—for good—from PSC-initiated mediation
Pole vault ace Ernest John Obiena again begged off—this time for good—from the peacemaking process being offered by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Monday, citing complex trust issues against the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) as the reasons for his nonparticipation.
“It is with great regret that I am forced to officially withdraw from the PSC offer of mediation due to the bad faith of Mr. (Philip) Juico and Patafa,’’ said Obiena in his Facebook account.
Obiena backtracked twice now despite the PSC assurance of impartiality. The PSC hired an independent body in the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center to reconcile both parties.
“I thank PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez for his hard work as a peacemaker. I believe in mediation as a tool for peace and have full trust and confidence in the integrity of Chairman Butch Ramirez,’’ said Obiena.
“Unfortunately, it seems that Patafa is only using mediation as a means to silence me and to keep the truth hidden,’’ he added.
Patafa officials have been mum on the issue since the PSC asked both sides to refrain from issuing statements and scathing remarks in public.
“Since the mediation will no longer push through, we will just attend to the investigation and verification of the documents [both parties] submitted for liquidation,” Ramirez said.
“But we will hope both parties will reconcile because peacemaking has no deadline.”
The track and field association likewise notified the PSC of its willingness to meet Obiena on the negotiating table and end the long-standing feud triggered by a “simple liquidation issue’’ when the Tokyo Olympian reportedly failed to pay the salaries of his coach, Vitaly Petrov, on time.
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Obiena, No. 5 in the world and the Asian record holder, charged Patafa of manipulating the facts and would enter mediation acting in “bad faith.’’
The funding in question—over P4.8 million in monthly payments to Petrov from 2018 to 2021—came from the government through the PSC and is subject to liquidation and scrutiny from the Commission on Audit (COA).
“They always trumpet that I should go to mediation if I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to hide and that is the reason why I do not want to go to confidential mediation,’’ said Obiena.
“I want the truth out in public, the same public where I was judged as guilty without due process.’’
NBI, SolGen to be involved
A source revealed that both Obiena and the Patafa have already submitted the liquidation documents pertinent to the controversy, with the PSC accounting office and the COA working closely together in examining the papers.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Solicitor General (SolGen) will eventually be involved in the process, added another source.
Obiena initially agreed to show up in the mediation, but eventually decided to compete first at the ongoing indoor season in Europe, starting his campaign on Saturday in Germany.
Obiena will be coming off a successful surgery that cleaned the meniscus and removed the screw on his knee from an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in 2017.
“The problem may seem personal but I am hopeful that the solution would be structural. I want to work with an NSA (national sports association) that prioritizes values, integrity and winning medals for our country,’’ said Obiena.
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