ALL FIL-AMS PUT UNDER SCRUTINY

Manila, August 13, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran  - The Philippine Basketball Association ordered yesterday a review of all the papers and documents of each and every Fil-Am player in its fold in the light of the Senate report on alleged ‘Fil-shams’ playing in the league.

The PBA, respecting the rights of these Fil-Ams in question, also decided to allow them to continue to play in the league but subject to submission of a performance bond in an amount equivalent to their one-year salary.

The Fil-Ams would be asked to post the performance bond as soon as a group or an individual files a case against them in court. The performance bond would go to the PBA coffers if a certain Fil-foreigner would later be proven to have fraudulent documents.

"It (the performance bond) is actually sort of security for any collateral damage that the league may sustain," said PBA commissioner Noli Eala.

These measures were put up by the board of governors in a lengthy meeting yesterday at the Le Souffle Restaurant in Ortigas Center.

"The PBA upholds with utmost respect the Senate report. While the PBA believes that no one is above the law, the PBA also recognizes that the rule of law is primordial. However, as an association, the PBA will take definitive measures on the Fil-Am issue," said Eala.

No. 1 in their measures, according to Eala, is that "the PBA and the individual teams collectively or individually will police its own ranks."

"Actually, this is only a reiteration for the teams to stand up and tell the world that our players are legit," said PBA chair Jun Cabalan. "Everybody (the Fil-Ams) will be subjected to review."

But the Commissioner’s Office, of course, will give priority on the investigation of the Fil-Ams named in the Senate report. They are Asi Taulava, Andy Seigle, Jon Ordonio, Davonn Harp, Rudy Hatfield, Mick Pennisi, Alex Crisano and Dorian Peña.

"The commissioner has been tasked to make a study and evaluate the status of the players named in the Senate committee report using all means including the original papers submitted to government agencies, documents used in the Senate report, new documents and testimonies in order to make a report to be submitted to the PBA board for final action," said Eala.

"The action to be taken by the PBA shall be independent and distinct from whatever legal actions and decisions that may come out from the court of law," Eala added.

Eala said they would order the Fil-Ams that would face legal case to post bond.

In the case of Taulava, it would be P6 million as the Talk N Text behemoth receives P500,000 a month.

Cabalan explained that each concerned player would be given a "reasonable time" to post the bond, which was different from the fine similar to the Sonny Alvarado case of 2001 which Eala earlier proposed.

In the case of the former Tanduay player, the team was fined P500,000 per game that he played while he failed to submit his affirmation papers from the Department of Justice.

Eala was supposed to ask for a similar fine to each team that would field a player in question, but that was superceded by the board consensus reached after almost three hours of deliberation.

"It was a collective decision. The board was united in addressing the problem," said Eala.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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