Obiena, PATAFA agree to settle differences
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The seething word war between pole vault star Ernest John Obiena and the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (PATAFA) could end anytime soon after both parties agreed to settle their differences on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has been moving heaven and earth to reconcile the two warring parties who have been at odds since last year due to several issues.
In a statement released by PSC on Wednesday, it stated that their mediation process on the athletics row has concluded its fifth session where PATAFA and Obiena have agreed to a settlement.
“The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA), the sole governing body of Athletics as recognized by the World Athletics, has agreed to endorse Mr. EJ Obiena to the 2022 Southeast Asian Games and the 2022 World Outdoor Athletics. Both parties have also agreed that endorsement for the participation of Mr. Obiena in other competitions will be subject to the usual rules and regulations of the PATAFA, as observed for the participation of all national athletes,” said PSC’s statement.
With this development, Obiena, the No. 5-ranked pole vaulter in the world, will now be able to compete in the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam in May and the 2022 World Outdoor Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.
Earlier this year, the PATAFA denied Obiena’s participation in the Belgrade World Indoor Championships.
The dragging word war has prompted the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to declare PATAFA chief Philip Ella Juico persona non-grata in January and listed Obiena as part of the Philippine team for the SEA Games.
PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez who served as the lone mediator of the proceedings was the happiest person when both camps agreed to settle their well-publicized feud.
Ramirez received guidance and support from the Office of the Solicitor General thru Assistant Solicitor General Bernard Hernandez, and the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. through its Executive Director Atty. Arleo Magtibay, Jr. and member, Atty. Charlie Ho, along with the PSC Mediation team led by Atty. Guillermo B. Iroy, Jr., PSC’s Executive Director.
PSC’s statement also revealed that Juico, Obiena, and Ramirez had a separate private virtual meeting after the fifth session of the mediation process.
It stated that Obiena apologized to PATAFA and to its board members while Juico and fellow PATAFA officials vowed to move on from the ugly incident and start anew.
Humility played a crucial part in the mediation process, Ramirez said. He added that the PSC had nothing in mind but to resolve the conflict when it decided to initiate the mediation process. /rcg
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