PSC ends mediation offer between Obiena, PATAFA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 27 2021 08:11 PM

Ernest John Obiena from the Philippines clears the bar in the men's pole vault athletics event at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in the athletics stadium in Clark City on December 7, 2019. Ted Aljibe, AFP/File
Ernest John Obiena from the Philippines clears the bar in the men's pole vault athletics event at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in the athletics stadium in Clark City on December 7, 2019. Ted Aljibe, AFP/File

MANILA — The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Monday said it is ending its offer of mediation between EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

This, after the pole vaulter voiced his dissatisfaction with PATAFA's move to neglect a moratorium by PSC while continuing to "insinuate ill behaviors."

"In light of the recent decision of Mr. Ernest John Obiena as posted on his social media account, the Philippine Sports Commission humbly informs the public that we are discontinuing the mediation offer," the PSC said in a statement.

"The agency leaves the mediation table, respecting the decision of Mr. Obiena who chose to submit to procedures conducted by other institutions."

The 26-year-old Obiena, who holds the national and Asian record in pole vault, is currently locked in a funding row with PATAFA, which has accused him of falsifying his liquidation reports and failing to pay his coach, Ukraine's Vitaly Petrov.

The PSC, which had its 2022 budget briefly recalled in the Senate because of its initial "hands-off" approach towards the issue between Obiena and PATAFA, said mediation should be the first course of action being the more peaceful, equitable, confidential, voluntary option to resolve issues."

"The PSC though is keeping its doors open to the process should both parties agree to it in the future," it said.

Obiena earlier said that he has no issue with PSC mediating between him and PATAFA regarding the supposed salary discrepancies by the athlete and the alleged harassment by the federation.

He noted that the accusations of PATAFA against him have been refuted since Petrov, had confirmed that he was paid by the pole vaulter on time and there was no late salary payment.

"This all started with accusations my coach wasn’t paid. We all know this is false. 100% false. Then it shifted to 'I paid him late' which I admit to. But as anyone can see tracking the payments to me, all of us involved are collectively late. Then it shifted to 'I violated liquidation processes'. As shown in the recent House hearing, it’s clear the processes I followed had clear support by the parties involved," Obiena stressed.

"After this, what is there to mediate? Every accusation had been refuted. What is left is a clearing of my good name, my full reinstatement, and necessary changes to the system to avoid this situation to ever happen again and avoid this burden being placed on athletes," he said.

Obiena said that even amidst his frustrations with the country's athletics federation, he intends to keep representing the Philippines -- even as some of his own supporters have encouraged him to make the switch.

Netizens have compared Obiena's situation to that of chess Grand Master Wesley So, who switched federations in 2014 and now plays for the United States.

The rift between Obiena and PATAFA is currently being investigated by the Philippine Olympic Commission's Ethics Committee.

Obiena and PATAFA were given until December 15 to submit to the PSC's mediation.

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