No mediation between Obiena, PATAFA as battle shifts to arbitration court

MANILA, Philippines – The supposed mediation between Olympian pole vaulter EJ Obiena and the Philippine Track and Field Association that was agreed in principle in the Senate hearing less than a month ago did not happen.

This after Obiena and the POC will engage PATAFA in a battle at the Court of Arbitration after PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico filed a "statement of appeal" to CAS last February 11 against the former two.

POC president Abraham Tolentino on Wednesday questioned PATAFA’s motive for it, describing it as a breach of integrity and putting a damper on the Senate’s effort to resolve the impasse.

“So what happened to the truce forged through the Senate? The mediation that both parties — Obiena and the PATAFA agreed on before our honorable Senators?” said Tolentino.

Juico's filing of a case at the Lausanne-based CAS was done four days after the Senate hearing where Obiena and PATAFA publicly agreed to a mediation.

Apparently, it didn’t materialize.

“Where’s the good faith there. The POC thought they [PATAFA] were for mediation and even EJ already agreed to the procedure,” said Tolentino. “Filing a complaint against Obiena and the POC means the Patafa is included in the complaint because Patafa is a member of the organization.”

The POC Executive Board, in a hybrid meeting at the Knights Templar Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay City, authorized Tolentino to hire a lawyer and appoint a CAS juror, as well as appropriate still undetermined fees for the defense.

All except chairman Steve Hontiveros and first vice president Al Panlilio attended the meeting, with Atty. Charlie Ho of netball, who ran under Juico’s ticket in the November 2020 POC elections, filing the motion for the appropriation of lawyers and CAS fees.

According to POC Chief Legal Counsel Atty. Wharton Chan, Juico filed the complaint through his lawyers, the Aranas Cruz Araneta Parker & Faustino Law Offices. The complaint cited the POC’s breach of jurisdiction on the Obiena issue, dismissal of the case Obiena filed with the POC through its Athletes Commission and withdrawal of the persona non grata sanction on Juico.

Chan said the POC could not be cited on issues over jurisdiction on the Obiena case, saying the POC “is not a judicial body but a corporate one and the focal issue is on the attitude and unethical conduct” on Obiena’s complaint of harassment against the Patafa.

“The CAS asked for more evidences from the PATAFA such as proof of notices, among others,” said Chan.

The International Olympic Committee created the CAS “to bring about the resolution of sports-related disputes which are submitted to it through ordinary arbitration or through appeal against the decisions of sports bodies or organizations.”

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