Limpag: PSC gives Obiena, Patafa a lifeline

·3 min read

BEFORE Odette cut off communication lines, the last I heard of the EJ Obiena vs. Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa) issue was that it was headed to a mediation, as mandated by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

A couple of weeks after Odette hit and I managed to get a signal, I was surprised that the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) declared Patafa president Philip Ella Juico persona non grata and when Smart finally activated its cell sites in Moalboal (still the only telco to do so), Patafa struck back and booted out Obiena from the national team and also threatened to file charges of estafa against the Olympian. By the way, Patafa’s move came about a week after its committee concluded its investigation.

On Jan. 6, 2022, the PSC stomped its foot and steered both parties to an amicable settlement.

This was something that would have happened two months ago if only both Obiena and Patafa listened to the PSC. Remember what it said when the issue first came to light? Both parties should go to mediation and should stop issuing statements.

Nobody listened, so the issue got out of hand. And of course, politicians had to dip their hands into the fray.

The POC didn’t help matters when it declared Juico persona non grata, as if such a declaration can solve matters. Graeme Mackinnon, a feisty coach and former columnist of The Freeman, was once declared PNG by the POC when he fought for then-promising Cebuana track star Chantal Balani who was having troubles with (surprise, surprise) Patafa.

This practice in sports where one Old Boys Club will declare someone they disagree with as PNG must end. It pretty much shows the political leanings of the POC, something the PSC chairman soberly pointed out when he said, “Let us solve this like sportsmen.”

And how do sportsmen solve a dispute? By deciding based on rules and logic, not on emotions and public sentiment.

This was and is a simple issue on liquidation, and the PSC has reminded Obiena that he has to complete his liquidation. No ifs or buts, no public appeal for sympathy.

When this issue started, I asked my friend PSC commissioner Charles Maxey why Patafa was demanding a liquidation from Obiena when it’s the PSC that funded his training.

He simply replied that while it was PSC funds that went to EJ, Patafa had to liquidate it. Of course, the barnyard dung hit the ceiling when someone leaked it to the media and Obiena cried persecution.

So what now?

Patafa did the right thing when it said it would defer the implementation of the recommendation of its committee to expel Obiena, while the track star has promised to complete his liquidation.

That should deescalate this hot issue and I hope it will lead to an amicable settlement.

To be honest, if this was under previous PSC administrations, I wouldn’t trust the sports agency as it usually was under the control of the POC. But Ramirez has shown in the past that he is only after one thing, rather two things—athletes’ welfare and making sure government money is well spent.

Ramirez has given both Obiena and Patafa a lifeline and I hope they take it. I also hope the POC stops muddling the issue.

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