MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Monday announced that it has yet to hear back from either pole vaulter EJ Obiena or the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) about the Mediation Submission Agreement that the agency sent to the two parties last week.
Obiena and PATAFA are in the midst of a funding row, with the federation having ordered the pole vaulter to return a sum of 85,000 euros amid allegations of falsifying his liquidation reports and failure to pay his coach, Vitaly Petrov. Obiena has denied the allegations and demanded an apology from PATAFA.
In a statement on Monday, the PSC said its board "has been waiting for PATAFA and EJ Obiena to return the (Mediation Submission Agreement) with their respective signatures."
The agreement was sent on November 25, 2021.
In a special board meeting Monday, the PSC board agreed to set December 15 as a target date by which time all parties are expected to have submitted to the proposed mediation.
The PSC board has expressed its concern over the delay, knowing the urgency for the mediation process to begin for the issue to be resolved.
"Again, my role is to facilitate communication between the parties, not to decide who is right or wrong. Mediation is the best option for now so the parties can reconcile, open communication lines, and continue the work that needs to be done," said PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez.
"The parties owe it to the government and the Filipino people to resolve the issues amicably. A failed mediation will be detrimental to both parties," he added.
The PSC noted that the dispute between Obiena and PATAFA "has caught the attention of the international sports community." Obiena's own mentor, Jim Lafferty, revealed that there are already countries who are offering passports for the pole vaulter so that he can switch federations.
"As an elder of the Philippine sports community, I am asking them to submit to mediation for their mutual benefit," said Ramirez.
The PSC added that it understands that the dispute also involves an internal process within PATAFA and World Athletics, but is determined to help the parties reach a settlement agreement while protecting government interest.
Moreover, the PSC board has also reiterated its position in implementing its "no liquidation, no funding" policy.
The rule was put in place to aid the swifter liquidation of problematic accounts, and according to the PSC has resulted to an estimated 80% decline in unliquidated financial assistances to national sports associations (NSAs).
The agency also reminded the NSAs to comply with the rules of the Commission on Audit, and liquidate the financial assistance or any funding received from the PSC within 60 days from completion of the project as required under COA Circular 2007-001 dated October 25, 2007.
Below is the full statement of the PSC.