PATAFA says mediation with EJ Obiena ongoing, lashes on POC suspension

EJ Obiena has entered the mediation, PATAFA said. Reuters (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association cried foul over the Philippine Olympic Committee's decision to suspend the national sports association for three months in the latest twist to the drama surrounding them and world number five pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

In a statement on Thursday night, hours after the POC released its verdict, PATAFA claimed that the ban was a blindside.

"PATAFA was not accorded due process and has yet to receive any document on the alleged POC suspension," the association said.

PATAFA also denied that it essentially barred Obiena from competing in the World Indoor Championships and also the Southeast Asian Games by not endorsing him.

"PATAFA did not refuse to endorse EJ Obiena in international competitions. In the PATAFA letter dated February 28, 2022, PATAFA responded to EJ Obiena that it 'will not act on your letter dated February 24, 2022 pending completion of the mediation process organized by the Philippine Sports Commission.' The deferral of any action in EJ Obiena's letter is consistent with the directive of the Senate Committee [on Sports] to undergo mediation, which PATAFA is currently participating in," PATAFA further stated.

However, the group stressed that only they can form the national team for athletics pursuant to Republic Act 6847, the law that formed the PSC.

According to the POC, it will now take over the handling chores for athletics with the suspension slapped on PATAFA, opening the door for Obiena's participation in the SEA Games.

Meanwhile, PATAFA further revealed that the mediation between them and Obiena has gone underway with two sessions already finished.

"PATAFA and EJ Obiena participated and continue to participate in the PSC mediation dated March 7 and 14, respectively," PATAFA said.

A third meeting was initially scheduled for Thursday, but, as PATAFA bared, both parties agreed to move it to Monday due to Obiena's prior commitments.

According to PATAFA, Obiena finally said yes to mediation after the Senate hearing on Feb. 7 but only signed the agreement three weeks later.

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