POC probes EJ-PATAFA controversy


THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has tasked its Ethics Committee to commence next week its probe on a complaint filed by Olympian pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena against Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).

Obiena’s complaint was filed before the Athletes Commission and Safe Sports Technical Working Group, according to POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

“The POC assures that it will resolve the issues with expediency and hold people who are accountable,” Tolentino said.

Obiena’s complaint—lodged against the Patafa and its president, Philip Ella Juico—borders on alleged harassment, attempting to collude with coaches to fabricate statements, coercing to solicit doctor-patient privileged communication, psychological abuse, bullying and neglect of duty.

The Ethics Committee is chaired by rowing’s Patrick Gregorio with sailing’s Ernesto Echauz and bridge’s Gerry Alquiros as members.

The POC, Tolentino said, also ordered the Patafa to cease from further releasing media statements in order to prevent further damages they could bring to Philippine sports.

Obiena and Vitaly Petrov, went online on Sunday to air their grievances against the Patafa’s claim that the multi-medalist athlete didn’t pay the legendary pole vaulting coach his salaries.

Obiena claimed otherwise and prompted the Patafa from shifting its accusation from non-payment to late payment of the Ukranian’s salaries.

Earlier this week, the Senate budget committee withheld its approval of the Philippine Sports Commission’s 2023 budget unless the sports agency fixes the row.

The PSC on Thursday decided to give Obiena and the Patafa a mediation submission agreement to help resolve their differences.

The sports agency deemed that the mediation submission agreement is the best possible option for the row’s resolution without the PSC intervening into purely national sportys association affairs.

Government intervention in NSA and sports affairs is taboo in the Olympic Movement and any violation could merit suspension of a national Olympic committee from the International Olympic Committee or international federations.

PSC Chairman William Ramirez stressed on the agency’s role of mediator in the crisis.

“I will not give any solutions. It is them agreeing and making peace,” Ramirez told BusinessMirror. “I’m just providing an opportunity for them to talk again and reconcile without looking who’s wrong or who’s correct.”

“Peace making is an extremely difficult matter, but I’m duty bound as it is embedded in our PSC charter to provide leadership in success and in crisis,” Ramirez added.

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