By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa) and pole vaulter EJ Obiena are close to smoking the peace pipe.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Butch Ramirez shared this development Tuesday, adding that they are “90 to 95 percent done” with the mediation proceedings that the government sports agency chief spearheaded.
“We’re almost there, and I’m positive that we will succeed by Friday,” Ramirez said, referring to the scheduled final mediation meeting.
The parties met for the fourth time on Tuesday where it spanned seven to nine hours, discussing the issues that needed to be ironed out.
The rift stemmed from Patafa’s allegations that Obiena mishandled government funds intended for his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov. This prompted several issues that include Obiena’s non-inclusion in the Southeast Asian Games-bound national team to Hanoi, Vietnam in May, Philippine Olympic Committee’s decision to declare PATAFA President Philip Juico as persona non grata, and POC Executive Board’s suspension of Patafa, which will be ratified during the General Assembly Wednesday.
Ramirez said he saw “an enormous softening on both sides” after having finished discussing four to five issues over the last four proceedings.
“I am praying and hoping that the PATAFA leadership will agree to some of the possible competitions to be given to EJ, and hoping that EJ will have a normal life in his direction,” Ramirez said.
“As a mediator, I’ve seen the positive side of both sides and I hope we can patch up this Friday.”
Ramirez added there are still around three issues that needed to be discussed but refused to divulge any more information pending the final mediation proceeding.