Obiena, PATAFA reach settlement; pole vaulter to compete in SEA Games

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2022 06:55 PM | Updated as of Jun 18 2022 05:55 PM

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) announced that the rift between Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena and his mother federation Philippine Athletics and Track and Filed Association (PATAFA) has finally been settled.

As a result, PATAFA has agreed to endorse Obiena to the 2022 Southeast Asian Games and the 2022 World Outdoor Athletics. 

PATAFA is the sole governing body of athletics in the Philippines as recognized by the World Athletics.

"The Philippine Sports Commission-led mediation proceedings on the athletics row reached its fifth session today. It is with much joy that we announce that both parties have agreed to a settlement and the proceedings ended successfully," the PSC said in a statement released Wednesday.

PSC chairman William Ramirez, who served as the sole mediator in the proceedings, expressed delight that the first-ever sport mediation conducted by the PSC successfully assisted both parties to arrive at a settlement. 

"After the fifth session, (PATAFA chief Philip) Juico, Mr. Obiena and Chairman Ramirez met in a private virtual room for discussion. Mr. Obiena expressed his apologies to PATAFA, its board members, Mr. Juico and his teammates, and both have assured each other of forgiveness, to start anew and move on," said the PSC.

The rift between Obiena, Asia's highest ranking pole vaulter, and PATAFA stemmed from a funding issue related to the pole vaulter's coach Vitaly Petrov.

The much publicized issue dragged on such that PATAFA excluded Obiena from the national team bound for the SEA Games and the World Indoor Tournament.
 
The Philippine Olympic Committee and the PSC tried to mediate, but both parties continued to disagree. The POC later imposed sanctions on PATAFA.

But Ramirez said it was humility that led to the successful mediation.
He said that their decision to enter into this process was their first step towards a successful resolution.

Officials who played part in the mediation process include the Office of the Solicitor General through Assistant Solicitor General Bernard Hernandez, and the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. through its executive director Atty. Arleo Magtibay, Jr. and member Atty. Charlie Ho. The PSC mediation team, meanwhile, was led by Atty. Guillermo B. Iroy, Jr., PSC’s executive director.