EJ Obiena withdraws from PSC mediation offer as PATAFA acting in ‘bad faith’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — Olympian and Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena officially withdrew from the mediation process offered by the Philippine Sports Commission in his ongoing rift with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.

Although he appreciates the efforts of PSC chairperson Butch Ramirez acting as a peacemaker, Obiena said PATAFA has acted in “bad faith.”

“Unfortunately, it seems that PATAFA is only using mediation as means to silence me and to keep the truth hidden. They always trumpet that I should go to mediation if I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to hide and that is the reason why I do not want to go to confidential mediation,” Obiena wrote in a statement on Monday.

The PSC offered the mediation process between Obiena and PATAFA in November last year.

PATAFA earlier accused Obiena of embezzling funds after he allegedly failed to pay over ₱4.8 million in coaching fees of Ukrainian mentor Vitaly Petrov. Obiena admitted that he made late payments to the coach but only due to his commitments as an athlete.

“It is a recipe for failure to enter into mediation (when) one party is in BAD FAITH; PATAFA was in bad faith this whole time as they signed the mediation with their true intention to still pursue the filing of a baseless criminal case of ESTAFA against me,” said Obiena.

The 26-year-old athlete alleged that PATAFA has manipulated the facts just like in a January 4 press conference, when the federation only released selected emails and incomplete email exchanges to put him in a bad light. He also called out PATAFA for "attacking” his mother in the issue.

“Where is the dignity and respect in that? I do not believe I can enter into any mediation with people who are seemingly focused on destroying me,” said Obiena.

“For me, hurling multiple false accusations, hiding information and lying are not the framework for good faith and mediation. They used friends, relatives and fellow athletes as pawns of their aggression,” he added.

Moreover, Obiena said that he may have lost his trust in PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico, but he has “not lost faith in our country and our country’s true sport leaders.”

“I trust that they will set aside politics and do what is RIGHT and good for the country. If all else fail then my NSA (national sports association) would have succeeded in pushing me out of the country. I would be forced to step away from Philippine Athletics,” he said.

“I do not jump for Mr. Philip Ella Juico or the PATAFA. I jump for my beloved country, PHILIPPINES," Obiena added.

Obiena is the currently the world's number five in pole vault rankings following his second place finish at the 2021 Paris Diamond League.