PSC to mediate in EJ-PATAFA row


THE Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Wednesday said it will exercise its duty to mediate between Olympian pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and the athletics federation but at the same time told both parties not to go public anymore while investigations are going on.

In a television interview also on Wednesday, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association President Dr. Philip Ella Juico held fort by saying that the association will focus on the discrepancies on Obiena’s payments to his Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov in the last three years.

A Manila congressman, meanwhile, wants the House of Representatives to investigate, in aid of legislation, the alleged harassment by the Patafa of Obiena.

“While we wish for the matter to be handled with confidentiality, we are bound by duty to mediate and call both parties to the table in the interest of truth and arresting the damage this tussle has done on our country’s image in the international sporting world,” the PSC said in a statement.

“We now demand the parties to refrain from issuing statements to the public and on social media,” the PSC added. “We hope the imposition of this moratorium will allow this proposed dialogue a chance to help all of us arrive at a proper resolution on this matter.”

The PSC was dragged into the controversy when its chairman, William Ramirez, said on Sunday night when Obiena and Ukranian coach Vitaly Petrov held an online press conference from Rome that the sports agency would be keeping a hands off stance while the national sports association and Obiena resolve the issue internally.

A dismayed Senate recalled the PSC’s budget for 2023, but had it “re-submitted” when Ramirez assured senators of action in row.

“The PSC believes that alternative dispute resolution is an efficient tool and alternative procedure for conflict resolution between the federation and the athlete,” the PSC said. “Should this option fail, we regret that the PSC shall be constrained to implement actions that would negatively redound to the concerned federation with regard to financial assistances.”

The PSC added: “We shall not allow this to spoil the successful gains of the Philippine in sports.”

Juico confirmed on ANC’s Headstart that Obiena paid Petrov his salaries, but questioned the dates the payments were made as he insisted that they were done only early this month and not from 2018 to 2021 as the pole vaulter claimed.

“Why was it that there were liquidation [reports] made in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021? That’s what we want to find out. What happened?” Juico said.

Juico also stressed that the Patafa investigation on Obiena were based on his conversations with pole vault legend Sergey Bubka, who he said told him of the non-payment of Petrov’s salaries.

“On September 9, I talked to his coach and Sergey Bubka, and they told me [Petrov] has not been paid since 2018. And Bubka affirmed it,” said Juico.

On Monday after the PSC issued the gag order, the Patafa came out with a statement that said it “will support whatever the PSC decides to help clarify what is essentially a simple matter of checking authenticity and accuracy of records to promote transparency and accountability and defend the welfare of all stakeholders especially athletes, volunteer sports organizations and administrators, government, sponsors and fans.”

In his draft resolution, Manila 2nd District Rep. Rolando Valeriano said actuations of the Patafa against Obiena are tantamount to harassment, an indication of the NSA’s failure promote his welfare, or worse, even a  sabotage of the career of a distinguished national athlete.

Valeriano’s office said the resolution will be filed immediately.

“Our national athletes have long complained of Philippine Olympic Committee [POC] accredited NSAs, engaging in endless politicking; not having sustainable development programs; being heavily dependent on government funding and failing to generate private sector support; lacking communications with and support for athletes; among other issues,” Valeriano said.

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