DISPUTED CONTRACT: FEDEX WILL BRING BONG HAWKINS CASE TO COURT

Manila, August 14, 2003 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran  - The Bong Hawkins case may end up in a court of law.

This developed as the PBA board of governors upheld commissioner Noli Eala’s decision ordering FedEx to honor the remaining two years on Hawkins’ disputed contract worth P9.6 million.

Air21 top executive Lito Alvarez said they will immediately communicate with Tanduay for its course of action since Hawkins’ controversial pact was part of the ballclub’s takeover of the Basic Holdings Inc. franchise last year.

But Alvarez said chances are they would go to court with Air21 going after Tanduay and Tanduay going after the PBA. The case may drag on for years with the money involved in the controversial deal being put in an escrow fund until the case is resolved.

"We’re the victim here because we’re given the assurance that everything was valid when we took over Tanduay. If (the new development) entails us extra expenditures, hahabulin namin ang Tanduay," said Alvarez.

The Air21 management took the board decision in stride as it anticipated the board voting in favor of Hawkins.

"Actually, natuwa pa kami dahil balita namin nakakuha kami ng dalawang boto. Our lawyers had conditioned our minds that we wouldn’t win in the board because the PBA has its internal rules. Pero may legal side ito and we’re very confident we have a good chance of winning the case in the court of law," said Alvarez.

The case stemmed from two contracts Hawkins signed with Tanduay two years ago. The PBA asked Air21 to honor the one filed with the Commissioner’s Office and this involved P9.6 million covering the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Eala and board chairman Jun Cabalan made efforts but failed to get the two parties into a compromise agreement in a meeting Tuesday at the Le Souffle restaurant in Ortigas Center.

Alvarez said their final offer was P3 million net of taxes which was still turned down by Hawkins.

Told that Hawkins is still open to negotiation to avoid the case going to the court, Alvarez said: "Ah, wala na. Korte na talaga ang magde-decide nito."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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