Philippine sports

No burned bridges: Juico says PATAFA, Obiena ‘can always talk’

No burned bridges: Juico says PATAFA, Obiena ‘can always talk’

SOUGHT-AFTER. According to his mentor Jim Lafferty, EJ Obiena has received passport offers from multiple countries.

Johanna Geron/Reuters

'We are mature people. We can always talk. But we have to finish the investigation,' says PATAFA chief Philip Juico amid their row against pole vault star EJ Obiena

Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president Philip Juico believes bridges have not been burned between the federation and EJ Obiena despite their ongoing dispute.

Juico said both parties have to stick to the facts as the pole vault star threatened to retire after being accused by PATAFA of falsifying liquidation documents for the salary of his Ukrainian mentor Vitaly Petrov.

Obiena has filed a complaint against PATAFA before the Philippine Olympic Committee Athletes Commission and Safe Sports Technical Working Group bordering on “alleged harassment” and “bullying,” among others.

“There is no such things as bridges have been burned. We are mature people. We can always talk. But we have to finish the investigation,” Juico told the Power and Play with Noli Eala program of Radyo Singko.

“This is my commitment to the [PATAFA] board, to the people, to the [Philippine Sports Commission], and to those who have a lot to say about the issue without understanding the facts.”

“It is easy to give opinions, but we need facts.”

Juico insisted it was Petrov, with the help of pole vault legend Sergey Bubka, who told the federation in September that he was not being paid for coaching Obiena since 2018.

Also, Juico said PATAFA has a signed document from Petrov detailing his concerns involving his unpaid salaries.

Petrov has gone on record saying Obiena paid him his full salary and denying he engaged in a dialogue with PATAFA. (READ: EJ Obiena to take legal action vs PATAFA over funding row)

However, Juico said Obiena only paid Petrov this month in three tranches on November 4, 5, and 9 – inconsistent to liquidation documents he submitted years ago.

“Late payment is late payment. But the problem is you said in your report that you already paid [Petrov]. So what is this late payment? Are we paying him twice?” Juico said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“If that is the case, then I should talk to Petrov to collect because we overpaid. [Obiena] said he paid in 2018, 2019, and 2021. Now, he says that he paid late,” Juico added.

Offers for Obiena

According to businessman and athletics coach Jim Lafferty, who advises Obiena, the 26-year-old has received passport offers from multiple countries amid his row against PATAFA.

Juico, though, dared Lafferty to reveal which countries have inquired about the services of Obiena.

“There are some people in his entourage who might be exacerbating the situation. The less people talk, the better,” Juico said.

Obiena and PATAFA are set to settle their rift, with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) acting as mediator.

“We are after a win-win solution for both sides. The goal is to preserve relationships of the disputing parties,” said PSC chairman Butch Ramirez. –