Statement by Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Today, I filed a motion to cite the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association’s (PATAFA) Board Members in contempt. This is for disobeying the Senate Committee on Sports’ order for PATAFA to amicably settle its differences with Philippine Olympian pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as the mediator. In compliance with the requirements of Section 18 of the Senate Rules, several colleagues have co-signed my motion. They include Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Francis Tolentino, and Senator Panfilo Lacson.
To recall, during the 07 February 2022 hearing of the Senate Committee on Sports, Obiena presented documents proving that he had fully transmitted payments for the coaching fees of Coach Vitaly Petrov, who confirmed receiving the same. Obiena also showed an email from the PSC auditing team confirming that he has completed and submitted all the required liquidation reports. Obiena did admit to delays in sending the payments, which he attributed to the difficulties he encountered in handling the funds, such as the conversion of Philippine pesos to Euros, as well as the late transfer of his training funds.
Despite the clear presentation made by Obiena, PATAFA still refused to acknowledge that he had fully paid his coach, and even raised doubts on the authenticity of his liquidation reports. Obiena had even asked for assistance in handling the funds. However, this request was not only denied, but was also used by PATAFA to raise issues and hurl accusations against him.
This prompted the Senate Committee on Sports to order PATAFA and Obiena to go into mediation with the assistance of PSC, with the end in view of settling this matter so Obiena could focus on his training and upcoming competitions. But a mere four days after both parties agreed to the mediation during the said hearing, PATAFA filed a case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. This is an act of bad faith, as PATAFA practically and effectively closed any possibility of amicable settlement with Obiena. PATAFA has clearly escalated the conflict by giving Obiena another problem that will distract him from his training and consume his time, efforts, and resources. This is not the way you treat a national athlete, and an Olympian at that.
That is why I filed the motion to cite PATAFA’s Board Members in contempt. They could have also been the ones who authorized their President, Mr. Philip Ella Juico, to persecute Obiena in every possible way and to disobey the orders of the Senate Committee on Sports. But as due process will be observed, PATAFA’s Board Members will be given the opportunity to explain their actions.
Meanwhile, PATAFA continues to rear its ugly head. Its continuous denial of Obiena’s requests to represent the country in international athletics competitions has undermined the development of Philippine sports. With this condemnable act, PATAFA has lost all moral authority to lead the track and field sports program of the country. #
BELOW: Screenshots of Senator Pia Cayetano’s motion to cite the PATAFA Board Members in contempt. Co-signatories of the motion include Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Francis Tolentino, and Senator Panfilo Lacson.