The Philippine Sports Commission has done the first step in its effort to mediate the ongoing conflict involving Tokyo Olympic veteran Ernest John Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
Obiena got involved in the controversy after the PATAFA alleged that the world’s no. 6 pole vaulter may have falsified liquidation reports and failed to turn over payment for his coach Vitaly Petrov.
PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said he has forwarded a “Mediation Submission Agreement” to both parties for their review.
Ramirez said he expects both parties to signify their agreement by signing the document.
“The role of the mediator is merely to facilitate communication, identify issues and help the parties arrive at a settlement. My role as mediator is not to decide who is right or wrong. We are after a win-win solution for both sides. The goal is to preserve relationships of the disputing parties,” said Ramirez in a statement.
The PATAFA, led by its president Philip Ella Juico, has already organized two investigating bodies to look into the row.
Liquidation paperwork on the receipt of Petrov’s 85,000 euro funding allocation is being reviewed by the panels.
The probers are also now evaluating the affidavits of top World Athletics official Sergey Bubka and the written statement of Petrov, who initially alleged that he “did not receive any monthly coach’s fees for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021,” for his services to Obiena. He later retracted his statement in a zoom conference with the Filipino pole vaulter, saying he was already paid in full.
Ramirez hopes that the issue can be settled as soon as possible.
“I am worried about them both. EJ is carrying this burden all alone overseas, away from family and friends. I am concerned about Mr. Juico’s health. The earlier we can sit down and talk, the earlier we can resolve this,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez added that the agreement also provides that in case that no settlement happens within 30 calendar days, the dispute will finally resolved by arbitration.