THE end of the bickering between World No. 5 pole-vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association (PATAFA) is near.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez on Tuesday made the assurance after the mediation he initiated that lasted for seven hours appeared to have gone successful on Monday.
“We are almost there, give us a chance to finish it on Friday,” said Mr. Ramirez during a signing of a memorandum of agreement between the agency and the Bangsamoro Sports Commission in Manila on Tuesday.
Mr. Ramirez is optimistic both Mr. Obiena and PATAFA President Philip Ella Juico are a few issues away from resolving their spat that started when the latter accused the former of allegedly falsifying liquidations concerning the salary of Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov in October last year.
“There are four or five issues that was discussed and I’m very positive by Friday, April 1, hopefully not April Fools, we’ll be successful,” said Mr. Ramirez.
Mr. Ramirez is also confident the reconciliation would result to PATAFA reinstating Mr. Obiena to the national team and endorsing him to compete for the country in the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games set on May 12 to 13, the World Athletics Championships slated for July 15 to 24 in Eugene, Oregon in the US, and the Hangzhou Asian Games scheduled on Sept. 10 to 25.
“I’ve seen the positive sides of PATAFA and EJ and we’re hoping to patch things up this coming Friday. The mediation last night (Monday) was successful about 90 to 95%,” said Mr. Ramirez.
“The possibility of the mediation succeeding 100% is real.”
“The whole country will benefit and the Filipino people will accept. This dispute should be a learning experience for all of us,” he added.
Mr. Ramirez also made the call to all parties concerned including the Philippine Olympic Committee, which holds its general assembly meeting on Wednesday, to refrain from inflaming the situation.
“We can all help with me to heal the wounds for the Filipino people who are spending for elite sports,” he said. — Joey Villar