By JONAS TERRADO
The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) said yesterday it is moving on from its long-standing row with pole vaulter EJ Obiena to focus on other matters it needs to take care of.
A statement signed by PATAFA President Philip Ella Juico and chairman Rufus Rodriguez said it would rather put the issue behind following Obiena’s decision to opt out of mediation efforts by the Philippine Sports Commission.
The statement came two days after the Philippine Olympic Committee’s decision to declare Juico persona non grata was ratified by its general assembly.
“PATAFA therefore chooses to move on,” the track and field association said. “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,” PATAFA added, citing primarily the preparations for this year’s Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and the Asian Games in China.
PATAFA also said it is wishing Obiena “Godspeed and success in his endeavors” after the Tokyo Olympian accused the association of acting in bad faith that led to his decision to pull out of the PSC-initiated mediation.
But PATAFA continued that it can still take legal action if necessary.
“With respect to (Obiena), he has chosen to remove himself from the jurisdiction of PATAFA,” it said. “He decided to align, work and avail himself of total support purportedly guaranteed by his patrons, agents and political backers.
“They are expected to support his training, maintenance, medical needs and compliance with requirements of tournament organizers.
“We tried to talk to him and settle issues with him three times and made ourselves available for PSC’s mediation efforts. But he spurned all these efforts, even saying that we were entering mediation in bad faith. He took a different path, preferring to do things his way which we will respect.
“Even as PATAFA considers this Obiena case closed, with the (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. The responsibility falls on our shoulders,” the athletics association concluded.