PATAFA – Obiena reconciliation in the offing

By February 13, 2022Sports Eye

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.


WE’VE been hearing  about the Obiena–PATAFA (Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association) conflict since last November. The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) headed by Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino tried but was unable to solve the three-month-old crisis, and the issue is bad for Philippine sports. The controversy was triggered by PATAFA’s president Philip Juico who accused Ernest Obiena, the Asian pole-vault record holder, for not paying his Ukrainian coach Vitaliy Petrov his monthly salary provided by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by Wlliam “Butch” Ramirez.  PATAFA has proofs that Obiena received the sum regularly. The Philippine star athlete snapped back at PATAFA and claimed the delayed payment was not a misdemeanor. Petrov later sided with Obiena that he was already paid in full, but not on time. And that started the brouhaha.

PSC tried to mediate and settle the differences but to no avail. I sensed there was a lot of ego in the issue -it was “pataasan ng ihi ang umiral,” ‘ika nga.

The feud forced the Senate Committee on sports and finance chaired by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go to conduct a public hearing last February 7 with both Obiena and PATAFA officials led by Juico. Finally both parties agreed to pursue negotiations and concessions toward a final reconciliation for the sake of our country during the hearing attended by Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino. PSC Chair Ramirez agreed with Drilon’s suggestion to the warring Juico and Obiena to patch up their differences and end the conflict.

Obiena who was in Europe training intensively for the coming Vietnam SEA (Southeast Asia) Games attended the virtual inquiry. He said, “I am all-in when it comes to mediation because I trust our senators and that is the best way to reconcile. But of course, there should be a sign of reconciliation and a sign that they actually want this. I am more than willing to reconcile and compete and my only worry that has been affecting my preparations is how sure am I that these things that happened to me now will never happen again,” he added.

But Obiena, the currently ranked No. 5 in the world who established an Asian record of 5.93 meters, was later reported to have been dropped by PATAFA from the Philippine national team in this year’s SEA Games in May and the Asian Games in September. But House Deputy Speaker and PATAFA chair Rufus Rodriguez was quick to clarify that Obiena was not expelled by PATAFA. Then POC head Tolentino, on the other hand, criticized Juico’s statement last week and angrily said that PATAFA should not deny Obiena the chance to defend his SEA Games gold medal win in SEA Games in Vietnam in May and prove his worth anew in the Asian Games later this year. Tolentino added PATAFA must endorse Obiena to the national team roster so he can participate in any international competition like the SEA, Asia including the qualifying meets for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Of course, the reinstatement of Obiena to the national team lineup is a gold medal win-win solution for us Filipinos in the coming SEA Games being the Asian record holder. Let’s just wait and see.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, ‘have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father? JOHN 14: 8-9

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