'CASE CLOSED' | PATAFA formally cuts ties with EJ Obiena amid row

EJ Obiena is now essentially on his own from hereon. Reuters (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Amid their continuously simmering feud, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association has formally bid adieu to EJ Obiena.

In a joint statement on Friday, top officials Popoy Juico and Rufus Rodriguez said PATAFA has officially cut Obiena out of its national pool amid their row that has been ongoing for months already.

But according to both Juico and Rodriguez, it was Obiena who wanted out after tensions rose due to liquidation issues.

"With respect to Mr. Ernest John Obiena, he has chosen to remove himself from the jurisdiction of PATAFA. He decided to align, work with, and avail himself of total support purportedly guaranteed by his patrons, agents, and political backers," the PATAFA head honchos said. "He took a different path, preferring to do things his way which we will respect."

They even said that tried to patch things up with Obiena three times prior to saying yes to a mediation process to be led by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez.

"But he spurned all these efforts even saying that we were entering the mediation in bad faith," Juico and Rodriguez rued.

They then wished Obiena good luck in his future endeavors as they at least on their end call this row a "case closed."

But Juico and Rodriguez added, "With the COA (Commission on Audit) doing a special audit, the PATAFA is constrained by law and policies to pursue legal options as identified by the committee which investigated the allegations against him. This responsibility falls upon our shoulders."

Meanwhile, with still a bunch of track and field athletes to handle ahead of a busy 2022 calendar highlighted by the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games, PATAFA is now ready to move on from the row.

"There's so much work to be done and attention that needs to be given to our more than 50 athletes, coaches, and other stakeholders. All of them need to be given the same proportionate opportunities provided to an exclusive circle," Juico and Rodriguez further stated.

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