PSC orders EJ Obiena, PATAFA to find resolution in private

November 25 ------ The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has ordered both Olympian EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) headed by president Philip Juico to settle their problems privately. Early this week, PATAFA alleged that Obiena was unable to liquidate his coaching expenses to the federation and had not paid his head coach Vitaly Petrov on time. The two parties have been exchanging rebuttals through statements and on social media.

Now, the PSC has ordered a stop to it. “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,” read the statement of PSC chairman Butch Ramirez. “We now demand the parties to refrain from issuing statements to the public and on social media. 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 believes that an alternative dispute resolution is an efficient tool and alternative procedure for conflict resolution between the federation and the athlete,” it continued.

PATAFA had ordered Obiena to return a sum amounting to € 85,000 (P4,844,829.65). They claimed Obiena “falsified the liquidations submitted.” Petrov, though, responded in a hastily-called press conference on Sunday saying, “I have been paid in full. I have no problem with EJ Obiena.”

PATAFA then released a statement saying that it is “bent on asking Obiena if he had paid Petrov on time, as he had claimed in various liquidation reports he submitted to the association.”

“Instead of admitting they were wrong, they now change the subject: Now the issue is, apparently, I perhaps did not pay Petrov ‘on time’,” responded Obiena.

PSC is doing its part by acting as mediators to both parties by privately talking to them to get more details about the case. “On this issue between the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and national athlete EJ Obiena, we assure everyone that we at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) did not take the matter lightly,” assured PSC. “Even before issuing our previous statement that ‘we shall intervene when appropriate,’ we have already quietly started a series of separate dialogues with each of the concerned parties, with the quick and just resolution of the issue in mind. The PSC was created with the athletes in the heart of its being, to protect their welfare and ensure a conducive environment for sports excellence. We have been dedicated to fulfilling this mandate,” it continued. “We remain vigilant in the dispense of our tasks, part of which is protecting our national athletes and ensuring the proper use of any financial assistance given to any organization like the PATAFA.”

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), on the other hand, has ordered its Ethics Committee to investigate the matter as well.