MANILA – The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has put the mediation between EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletic Track and Field Association (PATAFA) on hold.

In a statement on Tuesday, a day after Obiena announced his decision to back out of the talks, the PSC implied that it would just wait for Obiena to retract and finally say yes to it instead of canceling it.

"As mediation requires the voluntary agreement of both parties for the process to proceed, we inform you that mediation is temporarily on hold," the PSC statement read.

The PSC remains firm that the mediation process is the best way to finally put to rest the rift between Obiena and the PATAFA, which stemmed from liquidation issues.

"We maintain our stand that mediation is still the best option to resolve this matter," it said.

Speaking of liquidation, the PSC also confirmed that Obiena has accomplished his liquidation reports.

"Mr. Obiena has submitted his liquidation reports. The PSC’s accounting office and the Commission on Audit shall proceed with their normal post-audit process of checking and verification on submitted liquidation documents," it said.

Obiena listed in SEAG team

Meanwhile, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino disclosed that Obiena is listed in the Philippine team that will compete in the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Hanoi this May.

Tolentino reiterated a certain clause in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter that could allow Obiena, the defending SEA Games men's pole vault champion, to compete even without an endorsement from his mother national sports association (NSA), which is the PATAFA.

"The NOC (National Olympic Committee) is the sole authority who submits the delegation as the final list on all Olympic, regional, continental, and world tournaments patronized by the IOC not only based on sports merits but based on if the athletes will be the inspiration of the youth of that country," Tolentino detailed the clause in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum earlier Tuesday.

"(The NOCs) decide upon the entry of the athletes proposed by their respective national federations. Such election shall be based not only on the sports performance of an athlete but also on his ability to serve as an example to the sporting youth of his country,” he said.

By default, athletes must first get an endorsement from their mother NSAs before the POC can include them in the roster.

The PATAFA, however, is removing Obiena from its national pool as part of the sanctions slapped on him after the NSA's probe on his liquidation problems.

It has since deferred Obiena's removal following its decision to enter the mediation, but with Obiena declining, the PATAFA could implement the penalties very soon.

Thus, the POC might push through with its "test case" on Obiena.

"We have a Group B," Tolentino bared.

This group, according to the congressman, consists of 80 athletes that would be mainly sponsored by the private sector.

While the POC is awaiting the final decision on whether the PSC will fund him, the POC somehow made a step ahead and placed Obiena in its Group B.

"Ihahanap namin ng private (funding) si EJ basta makalaro (We will look for private funding for EJ so that he can play)," Tolentino said. "The NOC will fight for it." (PNA)