By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The leadership of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) bemoaned the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to suspend the track body for 90 days even without due process.
In a lengthy statement posted on social media, Patafa said it has not received any official document on the suspension, which stemmed from the association’s inaction to endorse world-class pole vaulter EJ Obiena from high-ranked tournaments that include the recent world indoor championships.
Patafa, however, stressed that it can’t do so since the track body and Obiena have been under mediation process that will settle their differences after the former ordered the track star to be investigated for alleged financial irregularities at the expense of the association.
The association cited its letter dated Feb. 28, 2022 in response to Obiena’s request that it “will not act on your letter dated Feb. 24, 2022 pending completion of the mediation process organized by the PSC.”
Patafa has been open to mediation since PSC offered to become a peacemaker in December, while Obiena politely declined to participate twice until after the Feb. 7, 2022 Senate Committee on Sports joint with the Committee on Finance inquiry. “In fact, EJ Obiena signed the PSC Mediation Submission Agreement only on Feb. 28, 2022 or 21 days after the said Senate hearing,” the statement read.
Patafa and Obiena took part in the first PSC-sponsored mediation on March 7 then on March 14. The third PSC mediation will be on Monday, March 21.
The association also said “the Arbitration case being referred to is not initiatory pleading.”
“It is merely a continuation of the complaint initially filed by EJ Obiena against Dr. Philippin Ella Juico which resulted in POC’s adopting Board Resolution P-2021-013 declaring him “persona non grata.
Hence, the Appeal Arbitration.” “The Appeals Arbitration before the CAS (Court of Arbitration in Sports) is the remedy specifically and clearly provided for under the POC’s very own Constitution and By-Laws.”
Despite the ongoing rift with Obiena, Patafa said it continues to perform its duties to its athletes and coaches preparing for future competitions.
“It has not reneged on its duty in the development of Athletics Sport in the Philippines. In fact, Patafa has a robust Kids Athletics program which began in 2014 and which has been recognized by the World Athletics.”
The association also made it known to everyone that it is an autonomous private organization and entity which is bound by and follow the structure, rules and regulations promulgated by its international federation which is World Athletics.