The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association is not burning its bridge with pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena.
PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico said this after submitting to the Philippine Sports Commission’s efforts to mediate the ongoing conflict involving the association and Obiena.
“We can still talk about it. But first, let us finish the investigation so we will know that needs and bounds of our discussion,” said Juico during the weekly program, ‘Power and Play’.
“There is no such thing as burned bridges. We are matured people. We can always talk,” added Juico.
Even Obiena said he is will to settle matters with the PATAFA and is open for talks.
“I am willing to make peace on this case. But I must have my good name cleared. I do not hold much hope. It is clear that I am not wanted by federation in any shape or form,” wrote Obiena in a statement.
Last week, Obiena got tangled in controversy after the PATAFA alleged that he may have falsified his liquidation reports and failed to turn over payment of 85,000 euros for his coach Vitaly Petrov.
The PATAFA formed two investigating panels, which are 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.
The row has prompted PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez to forward a “Mediation Submission Agreement” to the two parties so that talks can commence at the soonest time possible.
Juico said no schedule has been set on the talks and he will have to consult and discuss the details of the agency’s mediation bid with the board.
Bubka, who used to be the top pole vaulter of Ukraine and is now its National Olympic Committee chief, first met Obiena through Juico in 2012.
The PATAFA was able to convince Bubka to take Obiena under the care of his former coach Petrov, who began training the Filipino pole vaulter when he gained a scholarship to train and learn at the International Association of Athletic Federations Training Center in Italy, which the Ukrainian coach manages.
When Obiena’s scholarship ended in 2018, the PATAFA started to cover for Petrov’s monthly salary of 2000 euros. But it was only in 2020 when Petrov began asking questions on why he was not receiving payment.