PSC head renews call for Obiena, Patafa, POC to undergo mediation to

·3 min read

PHILIPPINE Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez renewed his call for Olympic pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to go through a mediation process that will be overseen by his organization in a bid to end the longstanding dispute among the aforementioned parties.

“Without humility from all sides—EJ, Patafa and the POC—respect and forgiveness, it is impossible to resolve this dispute,” said Ramirez in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) forum on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

“If Obiena, Patafa and the POC is listening, I know you have your own politics there, (but) the PSC is just trying to resolve and protect the athlete and Patafa, which is a good organization like all of the NSAs (National Sports Associations),” Ramirez said.

As an act of goodwill, Ramirez announced that they will be providing financial assistance to Obiena, who requested this for a knee procedure, despite the fact that he has yet to complete the liquidation process of the funds sent to him. In addition, the PSC is also working on giving the decorated 26-year-old his cash incentive for setting a new Asian record of 5.93 meters during the Golden Roof Challenge in September 2021. That performance bested the previous mark held by Kazakhstan’s Igor Potapovich that has stood for almost 30 years.

Ramirez relayed that he has already spoken to Patafa Chairman and Deputy House Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, who said he was willing to certify Obiena’s request so the athlete can receive the money directly as soon as possible.

“We are thankful to Deputy Speaker Rodriguez in agreeing to our request for certification regarding the financial assistance to Obiena. In these extraordinary times, we are willing to bypass normal procedure,” the PSC chief said.

Ramirez also reminded Obiena to keep his feet on the ground, emphasizing that “without humility, you won’t go very far.” He added that mediation is the only way to resolve this dispute, and to ensure that the process goes smoothly, Ramirez said he has asked assistance from the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. led by its president, lawyer Edmundo Tan and executive director Arlee Matibay Jr.

“Should all parties agree, I, PSC executive director Attorney Guillermo Iroy Jr. and the PDRCI hope to resolve this dispute,” Ramirez said, reminding that should this conflict continue, it may have a negative impact on the P515 million budget the PSC had received from Congress for the use in international meets of athletes this year.

“We are grateful to Congress, especially to our senators who agreed to allot P515 million to the PSC for international competitions such as the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games. But if this conflict is not solved, we might give this up and ask the Office of the President to give it elsewhere,” he said.

“We are spending billions on our athletes and yet we are still in a pandemic and millions of Filipinos are without food and shelter because of Typhoon Odette. I will tell the Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to give the money to those in need and concentrate on the grassroots sport that we have overlooked,” Ramirez said.

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