Cover BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: September 3: Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines in action during the pole vault competition at the Wanda Diamond League 2021 Memorial Van Damme Athletics competition at King Baudouin Stadium on September 3, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The award-winning athlete, who was earlier accused of misusing government funds and falsifying documents, withdrew from the mediation process offered by the Philippine Sports Commission

Filipino pole vaulter Ej Obiena, who recently bagged the gold medal in the 17th Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria, startled the local sports community on Monday, January 24, 2022, after his decision to withdraw from the mediation process offered by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). 

In a statement released by spokesperson Atty. Bobbet Bruce, Obiena said that his decision stemmed from the "bad faith" of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) and its president Philip Ella Juico.

The PSC, through a mediation process, hoped to intervene and settle the dispute between two parties after PATAFA kicked Obiena out of the team and accused him of misusing government fund and falsifying documents.

Earlier, the sports team also said that it will file a criminal complaint against the athlete for estafa over delayed payments of coaching fees worth €6,000 or P360,000 (more or less (PHP3,661,608) from May to August 2018.

"The events of the past seven days have deeply impacted me. It is now irrefutable with the new data emerging that PATAFA manipulated the facts to mislead the public," Obiena wrote.

“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,” he added.

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The 26-year-old pole vaulter alleged that PATAFA has manipulated information it released in a January 4 conference. "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,” Obiena stressed. “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."

PATAFA manipulated official documents? 

In his statement, Obiena claimed that PATAFA has removed the fact that Juico prepared the affidavits against him to be signed by Ukrainian pole vault great Sergey Bubka and his coach Vitaly Petrov “They have been telling the public that Sergey Bubka voluntarily executed his affidavit. They omitted the fact that it was Mr Juico who prepared the affidavit of Sergey Bubka, instructed him to get it apostilled, paid all associated costs, and cajoled him to sign,” said Obiena.

Bubka is a former Olympic and world pole vault champion who was also coached by Petrov in the past. 

“They tried the same thing with my coach, Vitaly Petrov. Using this, they have been manipulating the people into believing their statements that I have not been paying my coach. We have always called this a witch hunt. And clearly, it is.”

In the files obtained by news agency Rappler, it can be seen that the sports federation removed Obiena's email replies.

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Obiena finds refuge online

Supporters of Obiena rallied behind him on social media. The netizens slammed the athletics organisation for recommendations that did not help the athlete. On Twitter, they collectively questioned PATAFA's liquidation process. 

Some supporters also called for the termination of the sports federation's officials. 

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