DOJ  ORDERS  6  PBA  PLAYERS  WHO  FAILED  PROOF  OF  RP CITIZENSHIP  DEPORTED

MANILA,  October 19, 2004  (STAR) By Aurea Calica - The Department of Justice formally issued yesterday its resolution ordering the summary deportation of six Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players who all failed to prove their Filipino citizenship.

The players now face detention should they refuse to submit to the proceedings or voluntarily leave the country.

In its three-page resolution, DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez implemented the 50-page report of a four-man committee tasked to look into the cases of eight PBA players whom the Senate investigated for being "Fil-Shams."

The DOJ committee upheld most of the Senate findings that Asi Taulava of Talk n Text, Mick Pennisi, Davonn Harp and Jon Ordonio of Red Bull, Rudy Hatfield of Coca-Cola and Alex Crisano of Ginebra faked documents to prove their Filipino lineage and therefore be allowed play in the country’s premier pro league.

Based on documents, the six are not at least half-Filipinos as Taulava is a Tongan, Pennisi an Australian and the four others are Americans.

Only Dorian Peña of San Miguel and Andy Seigle of Ginebra were able to prove their Filipino citizenship.

The deportation proceedings against Taulava, however, will be held in abeyance until the injunction issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court on Sept. 6, 2003 is lifted. The Office of the Solicitor General has been tasked by the DOJ to cause the urgent lifting of injunction.

According to the DOJ, Pena’s father and grandfather are Filipino citizens from Sagay, Negros Occidental. On the other hand, Seigle’s mother, Blesylda Yadao, was proven to be from Eastern Samar and a Filipino citizen under the 1935 Constitution.

The DOJ said Seigle still elected his Philippine citizenship within an acceptable period, which was when he was 26 and not upon reaching 18 or the age of majority.

The DOJ committee recommended the expulsion of the six after finding "substantial evidence" to proceed with their summary deportation.

The DOJ also directed the National Bureau of investigation to form a special task force that would look into possible perjury and falsification charges that could be filed against the team owners, managers, talent scouts and sports agents as well as civil registrars responsible for the production of spurious documents of the six Fil-shams.

Gonzalez said the PBA itself and the players could only be victims by unscrupulous individuals.

The civil registrars, who may also be charged with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, were identified as Asuncion Mendoza of Quezon City, Luz Austria of Nueva Ecija and Yuri del Valle Sr. of Northern Samar.

The three issued "questionable birth certificates" to Manuel Arce Gonzalez, father of Harp; Anita Tomeda Quintos, mother of Pennisi; and Pauline Hernandez Mateaki, mother of Taulava, respectively.

The birth certificates appeared to have been altered and issued under dubious circumstances, said the DOJ committee composed of Chief State Legal Counsel Ricardo Paras as chairman and State Counsels Ramon Chito Mendoza, Elmer Cris Lu Rillo and State Prosecutor Benny Nicdao as members.

The committee said the six were guilty of misrepresentation as Filipino citizens because of their fraudulent documents. They are now considered illegal aliens, Gonzalez said.

Based on Senate Committee Report No. 256, the Filipino roots of the six players could not be supported by the annals of the civil registry, the Catholic Church or town and barangay records.

And contrary to the action taken by Taulava’s lawyers, the DOJ said it was vested with the "sole and exclusive powers" to provide immigration and naturalization regulatory services and implement the laws governing citizenship and the admission in stay of aliens.

The Bureau of Immigration can also exercise exclusive jurisdiction over all deportation cases.

"The pieces of evidence adduced during the Senate committee hearing have overwhelmingly rebutted some of the entries in the respective documentary evidence submitted by the aforementioned players," the DOJ committee said.

"Deportation proceedings require a mere substantial evidence and as far as the cases at bar are concerned, the same have undoubtedly been satisfied," it added.

Meanwhile, except for Taulava, the DOJ also ordered the cancellation of the players’ certificates of recognition, one of the requirements a Fil-foreign player should have before he is allowed to see action in the PBA.

"With the cancellation of the certificates of recognition, they are now lacking one paper which is essential for them to play in the PBA. So, except for Taulava, the rest will not be allowed to play," said league commissioner Noli Eala.

Eala, however, said the players can file an appeal before the courts but no longer in the PBA.

"It’s their right. They can seek a petition questioning the decision," said Eala who will convene the board as soon as possible for them to come up with an official reaction.

"The board will have to affirm this," said Eala, adding that with the injunction, Taulava will be allowed to play against Purefoods today in Dumaguete City. — With report from Abac Cordero


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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