After declining it twice, Olympian pole-vaulter EJ Obiena is open to a mediation again in finding a solution to the controversy he is currently embroiled in with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
“Of course, I’m all in,” said Obiena during the more than five-hour hybrid Senate hearing hosted by the Committee on Sports that was chaired by Sen. Bong Go Monday.
But first though, the Asian record-holder pleaded he must not be expelled from the national team for talks to progress.
“My only take is that in the mediation, there should be a sign of reconciliation and a sign that they actually want this and my understanding is putting me back as a national team member, I believe, is a sign of good faith,” he added.
PATAFA chair Rufus Rodriguez, who accompanied president Philip Ella Juico and fellow board members, clarified that Obiena remains a part of the national squad at present.
“We have been waiting for this (mediation). We would like to go even tomorrow,” said Rodriguez. “We are willing to go to mediation. Our decision to expel has been rescinded because there was a mediation before, and so far, he (Obiena) is not expelled.”
Hidilyn Diaz, who delivered the country’s first Olympic gold in the Tokyo Games, rallied behind Obiena and spoke of the need for a dialogue between the factions concerned.
“Respect, understanding and communication are what we all need to resolve the issue,” said Diaz.
Apart from Sen. Francis Tolentino, Bato dela Rosa, Pia Cayetano and Franklin Drilon, the hearing was also attended by Philippine Sports Commission chair William Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, gymnastics’ Cynthia Carrion, weightlifting’s Monico Puentevella and Obiena’s mom, Jeanette.
PSC executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy also spoke and mentioned Obiena had already cleared all liquidation requirements late last month.
“Right now, EJ has zero liquidation,” said Iroy.
Go, Tolentino, dela Rosa and Drilon all agreed mediation is the only way to resolve the impasse.
“I urge all the parties to settle the issue amicably. The longer this goes, the longer there will be embarrassment,” said Go.
“Would that be a better position to fix the ruptured relationship by reinstating EJ to the training pool? For the relationship to be fixed, it would have to emanate first from the reinstatement,” said Tolentino. (J. Villar, PS)