Philippines' Ernest John Obiena prepares to compete during the men's pole vault event at The Diamond League AG Memorial Van Damme athletics meeting at The King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on September 3, 2021.

Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena prepares to compete during the men’s pole vault event at The Diamond League AG Memorial Van Damme athletics meeting at The King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on September 3, 2021. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Sports Commission on Wednesday demanded both pole vaulter Obiena and Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association to stop issuing any further statements amid their ongoing rift.

Patafa accused Obiena of falsifying liquidation documents and ordered the pole vaulter to return €85,000 in financial help that was intended to pay Urainian coach Vitaly Petrov.

Obiena has since hit back, denying Patafa’s accusations and sought the services of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit the payments given to him. He also issued another statement on Tuesday, criticizing the agency’s “shifting allegations.”

“While we wish for the matter to be handled with confidentiality, we are bound by duty to mediate and call both parties to the table in the interest of truth and arresting the damage this tussle has done on our country’s image in the international sporting world,” said the PSC.

“We now demand the parties to refrain from issuing statements to the public and on social media.  We hope the imposition of this moratorium will allow this proposed dialogue a chance to help all of us arrive at a proper resolution on this matter.”

“Even before issuing our previous statement that ‘we shall intervene when appropriate,’ we have already quietly started a series of separate dialogues with each of the concerned parties, with the quick and just resolution of the issue in mind,” said the PSC in a statement.

PSC also said that that it held a “series of dialogues” between Olympian EJ Obiena and Patafa.

“Even before issuing our previous statement that ‘we shall intervene when appropriate,’ we have already quietly started a series of separate dialogues with each of the concerned parties, with the quick and just resolution of the issue in mind,” said the PSC in a statement.

“We assure everyone that we at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) did not take the matter lightly. The PSC was created with the athletes in the heart of its being, to protect their welfare and ensure a conducive environment for sports excellence. We have been dedicated to fulfilling this mandate.

Senator Pia Cayetano initially moved to recall the PSC’s proposed 2022 budget during plenary deliberations on Monday, saying the agency took a hands-off approach with the issue. The budget was eventually approved in the Senate.

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