Puts off filing of estafa case, the complaint against Petrov

By Joey Villar

THE Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) heeded the call of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and decided to defer implementing its recommendations that included expelling Ernest John “EJ” Obiena from the national team.

“In deference to the comments made by Malacañang and due respect to the PSC and its Board of Trustees further the statement of the board, on behalf of the PATAFA board of directors, the PATAFA has agreed to defer the implementation of the recommendations made in the fact-finding report dated Dec. 29, 2021 for a period of two weeks,” said PATAFA chairman Rufus Rodriguez in a letter addressed to PSC chairman Butch Ramirez on Wednesday.

PATAFA has also postponed filing an estafa case against Mr. Obiena, and a complaint against the latter’s Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov before the World Athletics, termination of Mr. Petrov from the national team, and the declaration of persona non grata on Mr. Obiena’s adviser James Michael Lafferty.

PATAFA took the high road hours after the PSC demanded for all parties concerned to sit down, talk and find solutions to the impasse that had put Philippine sports in a bad light locally and internationally.

The (Malacañang) Palace had also agreed with the PSC position to end the bickering with peaceful means.

“PATAFA strongly urges all the parties to submit to PSC mediation and explain the matter of liquidation at the said forum. The decision is and has always been consistent with PATAFA’s consent and willingness to submit to the PSC’s offer for mediation as relayed in its letter dated Dec. 7, 2021,” said Mr. Rodriguez.

With PATAFA responding to the challenge, it is now up to Mr. Obiena if it will answer the call or not.

But it looked like Mr. Obiena, who refused to undergo PSC mediation when it was first proposed in November last year, will relent this time as he and Mr. Ramirez reportedly talked on Thursday.

Mr. Obiena is being asked to complete his liquidation papers by the PSC and take it from there.

“This is a simple case of liquidation. EJ (Obiena) has given his partial liquidation report and the documents are now being examined and verified. This is a good step. Do not allow anyone to use those against you by getting it done. Finalize your liquidation and then you can focus on the other concerns,” Mr. Ramirez told Mr. Obiena.

The problem started when PATAFA accused Mr. Obiena of allegedly falsifying liquidation reports concerning payments to Mr. Petrov that the World No. 6 flatly denied.

But with the prospect of Mr. Obiena finally agreeing to talk, there is light at the end of the tunnel after all.