EJ Obiena-Patara rift close to resolution, says PSC chief | Inquirer Sports
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EJ Obiena-Patara rift close to resolution, says PSC chief

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:41 PM March 29, 2022
FILE–EJ Obiena and Patafa chief Philip Ella Juico.

FILE–EJ Obiena and Patafa chief Philip Ella Juico.

MANILA, Philippines–Peace is finally in the pipeline for pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and the Philippine Athletic Track and Field Association.

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez gladly announced on Tuesday that both parties are close to ending their long-running rift and could officially patch things up in the succeeding round of mediation come Friday.

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“We’re almost there. Hopefully on April 1 (Friday), we’ll be successful. I have seen the enormous softening of both sides for the sake of Philippine sports,’’ said Ramirez.

The government agency has taken the role of peacemaker since the controversy broke out nearly six months ago when Patafa accused Obiena of failing to properly liquidate government funds given to him for the salary of his Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov.

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“There are four or five issues that were discussed and I think that we will succeed,’’ said Ramirez.

Ramirez said both parties would enter the fifth round of talks on Friday with a mindset of sealing an agreement for good.

It would serve as Obiena’s ticket to see action in the coming Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 12-23, the World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon in July and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September.

Putting a lid on the controversy would likewise pave the way for Obiena, the world’s No. 5 vaulter and Asian record-holder, to prepare for the coming qualifying meets for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I’m hoping that EJ will again have a normal life. As a mediator, I will not succeed without the two agreeing. It would heal wounds. They should act as one, this is for our country which has been spending (for them),’’ said Ramirez.

The Patafa excluded Obiena from the national team bound for the SEA Games after the local governing body for track and field and its prized athlete failed to reconcile despite earlier efforts of the PSC to facilitate the mediation.

A Senate hearing last month summoned both the Patafa board and Obiena that directed them to sit down and settle their differences under the supervision of the PSC. Patafa president Philip Ella Juico represented the federation in the discussions.

Obiena wasn’t able to compete in the world indoor championships early this month in Belgrade, Serbia due to the long-running feud while the Philippine Olympic Committee has declared Juico persona non grata.

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TAGS: EJ Obiena, Patafa, PSC
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