SENATE BARES 5 'FIL-SHAMS', ORDERS DEPORTATION

Manila, August 8, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran   - After nine months of thorough investigation that sent probers to far-flung places in the country in search of pieces of evidence, two Senate committees found five alleged Fil-foreign players, including three who had donned the national colors, with fraudulent documents and recommended their summary deportation.

Asi Taulava, Rudy Hatfield, Andy Seigle, Jon Ordonio and Davonn Harp were found out to be "Fil-shams" following the release of the final report on the investigation conducted by the Senate committee on games, amusement and sports headed by Sen. Robert Barbers and committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws headed by Sen. Ed Angara.

Barbers said they also found the documents of Mick Pennisi, Dorian Peña and Alex Crisano questionable and ordered further investigation on their claims for Philippine citizenship.

"Their documents are not just doubtful. After making an investigation for nine months, sending people to as far as Samar, Bicol and La Union to dig evidence and gather information, we’re convinced that these are bogus Filipinos," said Barbers referring to Taulava, Hatfield, Seigle, Ordonio and Harp.

Taulava, Hatfield and Seigle had played for the national team in the Asian Games and won championships in the Philippine Basketball Association while posing as legitimate Filipinos. Taulava is even the leading candidate for the MVP award in the current PBA season.

In the 12-page report signed by all but three of the 20 senators, the Senate committees on games, amusement and sports and constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws also ordered investigations on government officials and personnel involved in the processing of the players’ documents required to grant them Philippine citizenship.

Specifically named in the report were Quezon City assistant city registrar Asuncion Mendoza, San Jose, Northern Samar municipal civil registrar Yuri del Valle Sr. and San Antonio, Nueva Ecija municipal civil registrar Luz Austria.

The Bureau of Immigration was asked to probe BI hearing officers who heard the application for recognition of Philippine citizenship of the players and the Office of the Ombudsman tasked to investigate not only government officials but also player agents or managers to determine if they are criminally liable in the case.

"This is victory for the home-grown players led by Mr. Jojo Lastimosa and Mr. Alvin Patrimonio because we only acted on their request to make the investigation," said Barbers. "I’m sure the Filipino players will rejoice."

Barbers said the claims for Philippine citizenship of Taulava, Ordonio, Harp and Hatfield were simply not established.

Seigle had a different case as he failed to meet constitutional requisites that would have accorded him Philippine citizenship. Born on May 15, 1972 of an American father and a Filipino mother and thus covered by the 1935 Constitution, Seigle was required to elect citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.

"Clearly, the records speak for themselves. Seigle, although born of a Filipino mother, never elected Philippine citizenship in due time when he reached the age of majority which is required by the 1935 Constitution," said Barbers.

"He elected Philippine citizenship eight years after the time he reached 18. Apparently, it was done for convenience and a mere afterthought — that is to qualify as a local player in the professional basketball league," Barbers added.

His younger brother Danny passed as a legit Filipino as he was covered by the 1973 Constitution.

Barbers said that Taulava’s claim for citizenship cannot be established, citing that the late registration of birth of his supposed mother Pauline Hernandez Mateaki "was attended by irregularities."

"Moreover, nobody in San Jose (formerly Caraingan), Samar, the alleged residence of Taulava’s Filipino relatives, knows Ana Hernandez Mateaki and Felipe Mateaki, the grandparents. Search for entries in the local civil register of death for 1959 also resulted in the negative," Barbers added.

Barbers further said that Fr. Diego Unay, parish priest of Bobon, Samar, certified in writing that the parish has no record of birth, death or marriage of Ana Hernandez and Felipe Mateaki, while the members of the Mateaki clan in Sta. Clara, Bobon, Samar, belied Taulava’s claims that his family roots came from the place.

Ordonio, Hatfield and Harp had similar cases.

"The documents Mr. Ordonio filed with the Bureau of Immigration, upon verification through field investigators, resulted in contrary findings. His alleged Filipino relatives do not exist in Balaoan, La Union," Barbers said.

On Hatfield, Barbers said: "He submitted to the BI and to the Senate committees that his grandfather Don N. Valdez was born in Luna, La Union sometime in 1921. However, upon a thorough search of birth records in the local civil registry, no such record of birth exists."

Barbers said Harp "presented before the BI and the committees a certified true copy of the Certificate of Live Birth of his father, Manuel Arce Gonzales, to prove his claim for Philippine citizenship. It appears, however, that the certificate is simulated, if not, highly suspicious."

Barbers also mentioned barangay secretary Liza Melgarejo of Barangay Alicia, Bago Bantay, Quezon City certifying that "as per the record existing in this office, there is no person registered under the name of Manuel Arce Gonzales."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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