March 15, 2006
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The surest and fastest way to lift the suspension on Philippine participation in FIBA and IOC-sanctioned international basketball tournaments is for the BAP to amend its Constitution and By-Laws, with the direct participation of PBA, UAAP, NCAA and PBL in the preparation of the necessary amendments that will follow the FIBA guidelines and statutes, and then for the POC to approve the BAP reapplication as member. This is known as the “return to the status quo” or “Bap return to POC” process.
FIBA Secretary-General Patrick Baumann unmistakably said so in his letter to the POC President Jose Cojuangco dated October 27, 2006, to quote:
“Should the POC wish to re-visit its position on BAP, the MOU process is unnecessary and our ban can be lifted immediately. In such event, for the benefit of a long-term solution for basketball, we are at your disposal to continue to assist the POC and BAP in order to rapidly implement the necessary changes in the BAP constitution and organization, along the lines recommended in the MOU and the documents already provided by FIBA to Mr. Aventajado.”
The above approach or process was the consensus reached among the PBA, UAAP, PBL representatives, and myself during a meeting in January called by POC President. Peping Cojuangco in his residence presided by POC Chair Robert Aventajado with POC legal counsel Ding Tanjuatco in attendance.
We met four times using this process. On the fifth meeting, which I was unable to attend as I was preparing for a foreign trip, another process was abruptly agreed upon by the other stakeholders. In said meeting, Mr. Eala, who was all the time our meeting facilitator as designated by the POC briefed the other stakeholders about his conversation with Mr. Cojuangco, which in gist meant that the process we had taken was unacceptable to the POC. If media reports are correct, then, I would say, the other stakeholders drew a smaller circle that kept me out, using the MOU process, which we did not agree on in the first place.
PBA Commissioner Noli Eala himself was the main advocate of the “BAP return to POC” process and who articulated the need for a more expedient, practical and reasonable process to put an end to the current impasse in basketball which has already lost the Philippines two regional basketball titles, the SEA Games and SEABA, and forfeiture of Philippine participation in other international basketball tournaments.
In that said meeting at Mr. Cojuangco’s residence, I explained my position very clearly that I was attending the meeting not merely as an individual but as BAP President. The BAP has authorized me to attend the meeting to explore and exhaust all means possible to lift the suspension on Philippine participation in international basketball tournaments and resolve once and for all the disunity problem plaguing Philippine basketball.
I also explained that the MOU process which the POC insisted should be followed had been clarified by FIBA Secretary-General Baumann in his October 27 letter to Mr. Cojuangco. Baumann described the process as, quote:
“Obviously as we see the local situation in your country as of today, this process does not seem to be as peaceful as desired and will thus be long and tedious.” (underscoring supplied)
Baumann also clarified that “any other process than the return to status quo requires first the full suspension of the BAP from FIBA and then the provisional recognition of the new entity, by then already approved by the General Assembly of the POC.”
The MOU should be interpreted together with Baumann’s clarification of 27 October 2005, which the POC refused to do.
The MOU, together with the clarification, will therefore proceed in this manner: First, the BAP should first be expelled by FIBA because the BAP is an active member in good standing. Only when the BAP is expelled by FIBA that FIBA can recognize a new cage body in the Philippines. But the BAP can only be suspended or expelled by FIBA for cause. There exists no ground for FIBA to expel or even suspend the BAP. In fact, FIBA in deciding the application for membership of the POC-sponsored PBFI, declared that the BAP expulsion by the POC was “inappropriate and out of proportion…In fact, the sequence of events rather demonstrates that the suspension was a maneuver to reach the expulsion of the BAP and the integration of the opposing personalities under the PBFI.”
The MOU process is long and tedious. There should be a complaint and observance of due process. Whatever decision is made the FIBA Central Board will take it up and then the FIBA Congress.
For the MOU process therefore to be successful, Baumann said “it will require all basketball stakeholders to rapidly buy into the concept and to ensure smooth transition and completion.”
Between the “return to status quo” or the “BAP return to the POC” process, and the MOU process, the stakeholders’ consensus was the earlier, i.e. BAP return to the POC. Mr. Eala himself said that through this process, the Philippines can immediately participate in FIBA and IOC-sancitoned tournaments.
This was why I decided to meet with the PBA, UAAP, NCAA and PBL representatives. After the meeting at Mr. Cojuangco’s residence, I actively participated together with the stakeholders in drafting the necessary amendments to the BAP Constitution and By-Laws.
As a matter of fact, the stakeholders always referred to the BAP Constitution and By-Laws for the amendments and borrowed from the US Basketball Association some ideas that are applicable to the Philippine situation.
It would have been unthinkable for me to attend meetings aimed at the destruction of the very organization I am President of.
In conclusion, the BAP, PBA, UAAP, NCAA and PBL were inside one circle when we met four times, discussing the vision, mission, objectives and programs of Philippine basketball using the BAP return to the POC as our framework. Without even conferring with me, they literally abandoned our earlier agreement.