PHILIPPINE Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez has heard enough and has laid down four demands in a bid to resolve the long-running dispute between EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
Emerging from a meeting of the PSC board on Wednesday morning, Ramirez expressed his disappointment over the recent turn of events, especially the federation's decision to drop the 26-year-old athlete from its training pool.
"PATAFA’s dropping of EJ from the athletics national team without any chance given for the athlete to appeal was a sad development. Due process requires proper disposition of issues and cases whether in government or private venues, including in administrative proceedings," said Ramirez.
Taking a neutral but strong, pro-active stand, Ramirez then laid down the demands of the PSC board to the Patafa, Obiena and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), as listed below:
1. We demand for EJ to immediately finish his liquidation of accounts so that we can continue to support him.
2. We demand for Patafa to reconsider their declaration of dropping EJ from their rolls, provide him an appeal mechanism and not to execute their decision immediately.
3. We demand for the POC to bridge the two parties as the mother organization of both and reconsider their decision of declaring Mr. Juico persona non-grata on the premise of promoting peace in elite sports.
4. We demand for the PATAFA, EJ, the POC and all the parties who wish to stoke the fire of this mad issue to stop. You have all publicly recognized the PSC and asked us to help resolve the issue, please listen to us on this simple request. Stop issuing public statements and come to the table with us to discuss this matter.
'Para sa Inang Bayan'
Ramirez continued, "We have said this before and we are saying this again. Let us resolve this like sportsmen."
"The issue has dragged on and have pulled the nation’s name to the mire of negativity in the international sports scene. We all pledge our love for country, we trust that you will heed our call immediately, for love of flag. Para sa Inang Bayan!
"We are here, we have offered our neutral table to seek a peaceful resolution to this from the very beginning. It is one thing to declare your stand publicly and one thing to follow it through with action. If we really all desire to see this to resolution, please listen to us."
Ramirez said he is set to talk to all the parties during the day in the hope of finally putting the issue to rest. The PSC chief said he is also making a report about the issue to the Office of the President.
The PSC chief also put to task the POC, saying its leadership muddled the issue instead of helping resolve it by declaring Juico a persona non grata.
"When the POC declared their involvement, we hoped they would bridge the gap between EJ and Patafa, both being under their authority. However, the issue became more muddled with the declaration of Juico as persona non grata and now calling on us to intervene on the Patafa’s removal of EJ from the national team," said Ramirez.
"This is a simple case of liquidation. EJ has given his partial liquidation report and the documents are now being examined and verified. This is a good step. Do not allow anyone to use those against you by getting it done. Finalize your liquidation and then you can focus on the other concerns."
To avoid similar incidents in the future, the PSC board agreed to make changes to its policies when it comes to support to the NSAs.
The PSC is set to "implement stricter guidelines on granting of financial assistances to NSAs and will require their submission of a disciplinary code or protocol in case anything like this happens in their sport," Ramirez said.
"We shall also be requiring them to include the policy on arbitration within their by-laws as mandated under RA 11232," he added. "Failure to comply with these two policies by the end of the month shall constrain the PSC Board to review and reconsider granting of assistances to all non-complying NSAs."
To end, Ramirez stated: "We are sportsmen, proudly calling the Philippines our motherland. Instead of throwing accusations against each other, can we not talk as sportsmen trained and exposed to the core values of Olympism -- excellence, friendship, and respect."