sunday shorts: of politics and sports

courtesy: davidlicke.com

Iloilo City – Flying into Iloilo City yesterday, it became obvious that election season is upon us. On our plane were UNA heavyweights Vice President Jojo Binay, Rep. JV Ejercito and Former Senators Ernie Maceda and Dick Gordon. They were on their way to Iloilo for the opposition group’s proclamation rally of their anointed candidates for the local races.

By coincidence, Mayor Jed Mabilog was also on the plane.

I was on my way to a meeting where my company was going to complete its entry into a joint venture company to build a new hospital in Iloilo City. The chit-chat prior to the meeting was also about politics. As former Speaker (of the US House of Representatives) Tip O’neill once quipped – “all politics is local”. Thus, this discussion of Iloilo politics was indeed very interesting.

It is also quite interesting, as the start of the Philippine election season happens to coincide with the tail-end of the US elections. It makes for a stark comparison of the relative maturity level of the two countries’ political discourse. The ideological divide which has made for some very nasty exchanges in certain US races is relatively absent in the Philippines. The ease by which politicians change from one party to another, if not create a totally new party altogether, speaks to the lack of a substantive mooring based on personal convictions and beliefs.

This also begets flawed candidates and eventually elected officials who would otherwise never even be allowed at the starting gate. The manner by which the Filipino electorate easily gets swayed and awed by personality-based politics and shallow works of “public service” does not raise the level of scrutiny where the morally bankrupt and those with questionable character through plain gumption and the lack of personal kahihiyan present themselves as viable candidates. The problem is that we let them get away with it dahil mukha naman siyang mabait, guwapo at kung anu-ano pang kadahilanan  by which we delude ourselves into condoning mediocrity.

The race for mayor in Iloilo is a race between someone who has done things for the city but whose manner of doing so may have rubbed people the wrong way and someone who has done things for the sake of doing it to “establish” his credentials as a man for the people. The former has alienated some people because they have felt their old way of doing things being threatened. They have felt threatened because they fear the culture of accountability and are loath to give up their sense of entitlement.

The latter, on the other hand, is a man of contradictions. He swooped in after a long absence from the city throwing money around. He goes around in flashy cars with bodyguards. On the other hand, he has established free “soup kitchens” for the poor. He has bought up newspapers, ran for and won the presidency of the local press club. He wails out at what he terms the “culture of corruption” at City Hall with hardly a shred of evidence. Yet, at the same time he faces a tax evasion case alleging a tax deficiency of P85 million.

He calls for transparency in City Hall transactions. His plans include putting up a digital billboard in front of City Hall to show the city’s balance sheet, full media coverage of public biddings and a “government-sponsored” TV channel to show all transactions between the city and its suppliers. I’m sorry – WHAT?

Even as he says all this, his own source of wealth remains a mystery. He claims some of it comes from a shipping and export/import business which the Bureau of Customs has never heard of. He has implied some business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and claims that relationship enabled him to get rich in the minerals business. Hay…

In all likelihood, the incumbent mayor will win the election. He has the support of the business community who have seen a sea change for the better in the way business has been conducted in the city.

Our democracy allows the ability to change for the better by guaranteeing the freedom of speech to keep government honest (that’s the intent anyway). Yet when one of the organs of this freedom – the Fourth Estate – is hijacked by someone of dubious origins and character and worse, the political opposition anoints the hijacker as its chosen one – well, there is something really, really wrong with that picture.

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The historic victory of the Philippine Men’s National Football team, the Azkals, in the Philippine Peace Cup was noteworthy for the significant contributions of players who were either new or finally broke out. Denis Wolf, Patrick Reichelt, Matthew Uy, Jeffrey Christiaens, OJ Porteria, Anto Gonzales and my man – Ed Sacapano. It was also notable for the long spells of beautiful football played by the team marked by gorgeous interplay while on the attack.

For many in the know, however, this was a Cup that was ours to lose. The Philippines (#150 in latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings) has surpassed Chinese-Taipei (#176), Guam (#185) and Macau (#200) as a better team. Of course, actually winning still takes hard work and being stronger on paper does not make one automatic champions. The pocket tournament also allowed our team critical match time to jell and break in the new players which is very important.

The Suzuki Cup will be much tougher. It was just our luck to have been drawn into the Group of Death which currently includes host Thailand (#131) and Vietnam (#146). Another team will join this group from a qualifying stage which starts this coming week with the favorites being Myanmar (#183) and Cambodia (#188). The other group, on the other hand, includes host Malaysia (#156), Indonesia (#161) and Singapore (#168).

We have lost to Thailand 12 straight times although we have not played them since 2007. Our last victory against them came in 1972 when I was in my diapers. Having said that, things are different now and the morale-boosting victories we have had in the last month or so should hopefully give the team a fighting chance.

The Philippines has played Vietnam 7 times. Our record has been 1 win, 5 losses and 1 draw. The lone win, however, came in the historic Suzuki Cup match in 2010 in our last match against them. The Vietnamese are probably still smarting from that defeat on their home turf and our match with them in this edition of the Suzuki Cup should be a dog-fight.

Whichever team joins this group from the qualifiers, the Azkals definitely have their work cut out for them. To duplicate their semi-final finish the last time out they will have to beat the qualifier and either of Vietnam or Thailand to advance. I just hope that the PFF and the Younghusbands resolve their differences to give us a better chance of doing so. Hey – who doesn’t want a happy ending? The Suzuki Cup will be no Peace Cup, this will be war and we need all the help we can get.

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FC Barcelona eyeing visit to Philippines during La Liga winter break to inaugurate Paulino Alcantara exhibition at Museo Iloilo.

Wouldn’t this be awesome? Cross your fingers. If this doesn’t happen joke’s on me. Everybody gets to share “isang platitong mani”.


UFL creates position of commissioner, appoints bonnie ladrido

Olivares, R., September 22, 2012. UFL creates position of Commissioner, appoints Bonnie Ladrido. In United Football League. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www.uflphilippines.com.ph/news-view/1348229570275/bonnie-ladrido-is-the-ufls-new-commish.html

by Rick Olivares

On the eve of the kick-off of the United Football League’s (UFL) second year under its historic television deal with AKTV, we spoke to new league commissioner Bonnie Ladrido about the upcoming season.

The appointment might come as a surprise to casual fans of football but Bonnie, whose career has been in the finance sector, has in recent years worked quietly in the background of the sport. His involvement was first as treasurer of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and then head of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the national team’s home matches. Once the LOC found its legs, he let go to help manage Diliman FC in the UFL’s second division.

As the last season wound down, he worked on a voluntary basis with the UFL’s Disciplinary Committee. Now, Bonnie, who likes to think of himself as a “builder of things” takes on the challenging job of steering the country’s top semi-professional league to a whole new level.

True to Bonnie’s behind the scenes nature, I found him all the way in the back of the Starbucks at the old Greenbelt 1 fronting the Asian Institute of Management, quietly observing the world pass him by.

Here are excerpts from my interview with him.

Rick Olivares (RO): UFL Commissioner. How did this come about?

Bonnie Ladrido (BL): The actual discussion started some time back in July when the Football Alliance’s Mike Camahort called me up to set up a meeting with UFL President Randy Roxas.

Before the last season ended, I had been exchanging ideas with Randy and volunteered to help. I had certain suggestions that he and the league were willing to listen to. We continued to share ideas and by the time Mike called it was to broach the idea of becoming the league’s commissioner. We took a couple of weeks to hammer out all the details and we came to an agreement.

Essentially, the Football Alliance has taken the view that the UFL was entering a new stage in its development and wanted to lay the foundation for a stronger organization. While I am commissioner, I report to Randy and the UFL Executive Committee. I will work under their guidance on pretty much everything. We all want to do things right. This also represents the continued growth of the league as it further professionalizes its operations.

RO: We know of your love for the game, was this a cool moment for you considering you used to kick that ball around as an elementary kid?

BL: Let me start to answer that with this – it goes with everything that I do and who I am that if there is a place where I can make a contribution and improve things, I have the tendency to gravitate towards that.

So it’s not necessarily that this is cool, it’s more like “Wow! I get to do something I love to do for football!” This will obviously be a challenge and a lot of work needs to be done but first I need to learn how the organization works, establish priorities and get things done. It is important to undertake this process because the things you see as an outsider may be totally different from what the reality is. The “cool moment” will probably arrive without warning and that will be when you suddenly realize that things are running smoothly -if and when that moment ever comes (laughs).

RO: After working with the PFF and Diliman FC, is there anything that you’ve learned from there that you can transfer to the UFL?

BL: When I began working for the PFF, I forced myself to learn how it worked with the structures that were in place. I also studied how FIFA and the AFC relate to us since that was a time of transition and some controversy. Given the situation, I think that there were very few people who had a firm grounding of the protocols and how to use them. I think this knowledge and experience will be helpful to the UFL in bridging any gaps that may exist between how the league works and making sure we conform to guidelines of the PFF, the NCRFA and the other football regulatory bodies.

For example, there is aligning the league’s schedule with the FIFA/AFC calendar as well as the national team’s games. Many of our leagues and tournaments whether semi-pro or collegiate or even on the grassroots levels run at the same time and at times not aligned at all with the international calendar. That is something that I would like to be able to help address.

As part of Diliman FC, I experienced things from a management and ownership perspective. I got to understand the worries and also some of the “nuts and bolts” of running a club. I also got to interact with coaches and players and learned a little about how they view the game. These experiences will be important because ultimately, the league is all about its teams and its players. The success of the teams and the players will be a necessary component of the league’s success.

RO: What can UFL fans expect this year? Any changes? Tantalize us.

BL: One major change will be the movement of our TV coverage schedule with AKTV from Saturday afternoons to primetime slots (beginning at 5 pm) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a change that we welcome but will also have to watch carefully. On prime time on weekdays, you reach a different audience. Whether it is good or not remains to be seen. Certainly, for football to gain a wider acceptance, we need to explore the opportunity to be on prime time. But we also have to do our groundwork in promoting the games and not rely on television alone. We will work more with AKTV and the UFL’s own media group to get the league out there.

For the UFL Cup, we will have 28 teams participating including 9 guest teams. We tweaked the format a little bit by starting off with an elimination stage (Stage 1) where the guest teams will have to prove themselves against the UFL’s Division 2 clubs in a knock-out format. The guest teams will have to beat the Division 2 clubs twice to advance to the next round which will be the group stage. The intent is to be able to make sure that these guest teams are competitive when they reach the next stage. This is to hopefully avoid or at least minimize the experience last year when we saw a lot of unsightly match results.

Last year, the UFL also used the Cup as an entryway for the expansion of Division 2. That will not be the case this year. We will retain the same structure of 10 teams in Division 1 and 12 teams in Division 2 for the league competition. We have a few guest teams involved but this is not really expansion. We need to consolidate first. It is always good for teams to settle down first before further expanding. We have to remember that we are working with the same budget as the previous year. Certain things have gone up in cost so we will have to find more ways to be cost effective while achieving greater things.

There will be other innovations that will be introduced to enhance the “fan experience” at our various venues.

RO: Let’s backtrack a bit. Tell us about your background.

BL: I’m from Iloilo so you that gives you some idea about my affinity for football. I played on my school’s varsity football and basketball teams. My contemporaries from Iloilo included Joseph Gensaya (now UFL match commissioner and Iloilo Football Association president), Jimmy Dimzon (who plays and coaches for the Philippine Navy in the UFL), and Jing Jambre (one of our referees) to name a few. I played in my school’s varsity team and went to UP Diliman where I took up Business Administration, I was too intimidated (the provinciano in me) to try out for the UP Varsity because the team then was the defending UAAP champion. They had Coach Rudy del Rosario (former national team player and now Homeless World Cup director), Manny Concio, Pilo Rosell (former national team player), Ebong Joson (aka “The Blue-Haired Fanatic”), Coach “King” Kleng Cacacho and others. Instead I played in the other football leagues on campus as I also decided to concentrate on my academics.

After college I worked for several local and global financial institutions before leaving for the United States in 2000 to get my master’s degree. I stayed in the US for 10 years and worked in New York as an investment banker before eventually establishing my own financial advisory practice in Los Angeles. I came back to the Philippines in 2009 to work for the Ayala Corporation as part of the Corporate Strategy team before ending up with the Manny Pangilinan group.

When I was with the MVP group, we were in a meeting when one senior executive asked, “Who are these Azkals?” We were all waiting for MVP to arrive so we all got into the discussion. From the time I left for the US and my eventual return, I was in a blank state as to local football even up to the 2010 Suzuki Cup. One of the other executives at the meeting quipped, “This is the sport that we should be supporting.” When MVP walked in, we continued the discussion that went on for a while before I had to remind everyone about why we were there – for a business presentation. But the seed was planted and MVP decided to come out to support football initially with a P1 million pledge which eventually led to SMART’s decision to support PFF with a 10-year, P8 million a year financial support commitment.

The group gave me permission to help the PFF on the condition that it be on an unpaid volunteer basis though I was allowed to do so on company time. I came in February of 2011 and put in policies and procedures to streamline and make transparent the financial operations of the PFF. I landed right in the middle of a FIFA financial audit of the PFF which as many of you know, was being investigated for the unauthorized use of funds coming from the FIFA Financial Assistance Programme (FAP).

My current “day-job” is as the Chief Financial Officer of a healthcare delivery company which currently owns and operates 4 hospitals/facilities all over the country and intends to acquire or build at least one new hospital every year for the next 4 years. This is a major undertaking, as you can imagine, but my company has allowed me the opportunity to spend time helping the UFL grow.

RO: With your family in America and the obvious stress of work, how do you deal with this?

BL: One way to manage stress is to find something that you like to do and this includes your work. I have been fortunate to have found a company whose vision I believe in and am passionate about. This allows me to use whatever talent and skills that I have to further something I care about.

My nature is to be a builder. I put in systems and procedures that hopefully stand the test of time and when the time comes to turn it over to someone who will be better than me in running things. My “day-job” allows me to do this. I hope to do the same thing for the UFL. I don’t have to mention that I believe in what the UFL is all about, it’s place in Philippine football and where it is headed.

As you yourself know, the game is not without its politics and the things that come with it. There are times when you get fed up with it and just want to call it a day. Sometimes I delude myself by saying – “forget this, I don’t need this”. From a “making a living” perspective, yes – I don’t need football. Then again, it’s not about the money, it’s about making a contribution and hopefully a difference for the sake of Philippine football. It’s kind of difficult to walk away from that.

So what do I do to remind myself of why I’m doing this? I watch kids play.

Makati, Alabang, Tacloban, Iloilo, Butuan, San Carlos City, Calamba – I don’t care where. I watch kids play because it’s fun, because when you’re a kid it’s all about the game. At some point, for many of these kids it becomes pure unadulterated love of the game with none of the baggage that comes with it later.

I look for opportunities to go where the game is played for the sheer fun and joy of doing it. It reaffirms what I am doing and why I am doing it. No cameras, no big crowds, no overbearing complaints about referees (), no complications – just kids playing.

Then I go back to work.


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football’s judicial process – a totally different animal

MAKATI – The decision of the PFF Disciplinary Committee in COMPLAINT OF CRISTINA RAMOS Against Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado has certainly raised quite a ruckus. There has been a lot of angst displayed and a lot of what I see and read points to a lack of appreciation for and understanding of how football’s judicial process works. I hope to shed a little light on this with this article.

FIFA has three judicial bodies – the Disciplinary Committee, the Ethics Committee and the Appeals Committee. All organizations (confederations, national federations or associations, etc.) under FIFA usually have similar committees which mirror FIFA’s judicial bodies.

These judicial bodies function to regulate the game by determining and passing judgment on violations of FIFA’s rules which are contained in four main documents namely the Laws of the Game, FIFA Statutes, FIFA Disciplinary Code and the FIFA Code of Ethics. Regional and national organizations usually also have their own rules in addition to FIFA rules which they may ask their respective judicial bodies to adjudicate over as well. These additional rules may not contravene FIFA’s rules and usually contain rules which are appropriate in a specific jurisdiction (e.g. organizational rules such as incorporation with the SEC, etc.).

One major difference with your typical judicial entity is that football’s judicial bodies may act with or without a complaint. While not expressly stated as such, the FIFA Disciplinary Code is replete with provisions which imply such. As an example, Article 77 (Specific jurisdiction), subsection (a) states that “The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention;…”.

So a disciplinary process can begin regardless of whether a complaint has been filed before it. It usually starts when parties to this process are asked to submit sworn statements to answer and/or comment on the subject of the judicial process. There is a time limit within which a party can answer this notice and submit his/her statement and this is usually within a period of 72 hours.

Parties to the case can present evidence to support their cases. Due process is observed with parties being allowed to present their arguments “…in fact and in law”, requesting proof, assisting in the production of proof and obtaining a “reasoned decision”.

Proof can be submitted by the parties involved but the Disciplinary Committee through its Secretariat also gathers proof ex-officio or on its own. Parties may have legal representation. The judicial body has absolute discretion regarding the appreciation of proof.

Parties are allowed to reply to sworn statements of other parties.

There are generally no oral statements. A party may, however, request for oral statements to be heard. All parties to the proceedings will be summoned to attend such.

Decisions, in many cases, are solely based on the proceeding files which would include the complaint, the sworn statements and other proof submitted to the committee. Committee members decide based on their appreciation of the documents it has in its possession in forming their personal convictions. The Committee may communicate to the parties only the terms of the decision. In these cases, parties have 10 days from receipt to make a written request to the Committee for the grounds of the decision. Failure to request such will result in the decision becoming final and immediately binding. The notice of the decision also includes the channels for appealing the decision.

Any party who wishes to appeal the decision of the Disciplinary Committee may do so and seek relief from the Appeals Committee. This is done with a written notice to the Appeals Committee within 3 days from receipt of the decision. This party then has another 7 days to communicate to the Appeals Committee the reasons for the appeal.

The filing of an appeal does not suspend the implementation of sanctions.

Section 121 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code specifies the grounds for appeal as follows:

“The appellant may object to inaccurate representation of the facts and/or wrong application of the law”.

There are, however, decisions by the Disciplinary Committee which cannot be appealed. This includes decisions where the sanctions imposed involve a warning, a reprimand, a suspension of less than 3 matches or of up to two months or decisions involving a failure to respect (judicial body) decisions.

The Appeals Committee functions as the court of last instance. Under the Philippine context, the most plausible next step should there be a dispute with regard to its decisions is an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. FIFA expressly prohibits “recourse to ordinary courts of law” (Article 88 paragraph 2, FIFA Statutes, July 2012 edition).

The PFF Disciplinary and Appeals Committees, as is mandated by FIFA, are independent of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) itself.

In the context of its decision with regard to  COMPLAINT OF CRISTINA RAMOS Against Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado, I hope this article provides a template for understanding the judicial process of football, in general, and of the PFF Disciplinary Committee, in general. These judicial bodies cannot be held to standards that we are more familiar with in terms of a typical judicial system because they operate under a different system. In certain ways, it has wider latitude – in others, not.

Whether I agree or disagree with the decision to impose penalties on players and officials who were not the subject of the complaint is beside the point. The football judicial system allows the Disciplinary Committee the authority to do just that.

FIFA specifically and expressly prohibits sexual harassment. The FIFA Code of Ethics, 2012 edition species in Article 24, paragraph the following:

“Sexual harassment is forbidden. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances that are not solicited or invited. The assessment is based on whether a reasonable person would regard the conduct as undesirable or offensive. Threats, the promise of advantages and coercion are particularly prohibited.”

In this case, the PFF Disciplinary Committee apparently felt that the acts committed during the incident did not rise to the level of sexual harassment. The FIFA definition is certainly more liberal in its definition of sexual harassment than R.A. 7877 under Philippine jurisprudence. R.A. 7877 sadly limits sexual harassment to acts committed by a person in authority over a subordinate. Unfortunately for Ms. Ramos, this also limits her ability to seek recourse from Philippine courts given that she was the person in authority during the incident. Of course, doing so would be in direct defiance of FIFA statutes expressly prohibiting this. That would indeed be opening a whole new can of worms.


IN RE: COMPLAINT OF CRISTINA RAMOS Against Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado

Pursuant to the instructions of the Chairperson of the PFF Disciplinary Committee you are hereby directed to submit, within 72 hours from your receipt hereof, your sworn statements stating what you personally observed during the Philippine Team check conducted by Match Officials (Cristina Ramos & [name withheld]) and LOC Liaison Officer [name withheld] at the Philippine team dug-out, and immediately thereafter.

Lady Justice

Lady Justice (Photo credit: Scott*)

MAKATI – This was the first paragraph of the NOTICE/ORDER I received late on March 9th earlier this year in RE: COMPLAINT OF CRISTINA RAMOS Against Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.

This is my personal reflection over the allegations of sexual harassment levied by Cristy Ramos. Before I continue on, I would like to make clear the following:

  • This does not reflect any official position by the Philippine Football Federation nor of its management;
  • This is not meant to minimize nor deflect the seriousness of the allegations of Ms. Ramos as well as her right to seek redress for her grievances; and,
  • This is based solely on the information that I know and documents I have properly and legally received as a party to the case (Note: FIFA Disciplinary Code 2011 Art. 88 Sec. 2: Only contents of those decisions already notified to the addressees may be made public).

It is indeed a sad state of affairs that we find ourselves in with this set of circumstances. While sad, I also feel a sense of anger and dismay at how this reflects on the game that we love.

Ms. Ramos was the match commissioner for the Philippines – Malaysia International “A” Friendly Match. She was originally appointed by the PFF to be the General Coordinator of the match but when the original match commissioner begged off, Ms. Ramos volunteered to be match commissioner. As the match commissioner is the official representative of the AFC and FIFA, her appointment had to be cleared with both AFC and the Football Association of Malaysia. Match commissioners are typically from a neutral country but for friendly matches, the assignment of a match commissioner from the host country can be requested.

I first found out about this incident when Ms. Ramos verbally related to me her observations which she subsequently detailed in her letter of complaint addressed to the Asian Football Confederation. This conversation happened at the match commissioner’s room after the Philippines vs. Malaysia match. I have to admit, at this point, that I may not fully appreciated the substance of her grievance. As other people present in the room can attest, this was partly because her verbal narration of the incident focused on the lack of discipline and respect by members of the National Men’s Team during the pre-match inspection that she conducted. There was never any mention of the phrase – “sexual harassment” which Ms. Ramos subsequently includes in her formal complaint. Nevertheless, focusing on what I knew was proper protocol, I asked her to document her allegations in her match commissioner’s report and provide the PFF with a complaint so that it could be acted on.

On March 1st, the day after the match, PFF President Nonong Araneta was approached by Ms. Ramos at the PFF-UFL Fellowship and Unity night event at the Turf @ BGC. Ms. Ramos reiterated her complaint which now took on a more ominous color because it had now been elevated to one of sexual harassment relative to the prior characterization of the incident as one of the lack of discipline and respect.

On March 2nd at around 10 am, I was cc’d on an email from Ms. Ramos addressed to the AFC which contained her formal complaint alleging sexual harassment. I was also informed that PFF General Secretary Atty. Roland Tulay had arranged for a meeting that afternoon between Ms. Ramos, Mr. Araneta, National Team Manager Dan Palami and himself. The purpose was to hear out Ms. Ramos and inform her of the steps that the PFF was doing to investigate and address her complaint.

At the meeting, Ms. Ramos was informed that even without guidance from AFC (to which she formally addressed her complaint to), the PFF would proactively forward her complaint to the head of the PFF Disciplinary Committee. She was repeatedly assured that there would be no “whitewash” (her words) in the conduct of the investigation.

For Ms. Ramos’ part, she said she wanted a public apology from the players who were the subject of her complaint. She also asked that she again be appointed as match commissioner for the next men’s national team match in the country so she could “discipline” the players herself. She also mentioned at the meeting that she had already brought to the attention of the media, specifically Bandera and DZSR, her allegations.

On March 4th, the PFF Disciplinary Committee, which is a body independent of the PFF, assumed jurisdiction over the complaint based on the grounds that …”(a) the incident involved Philippine personalities; and, (b) the incident happened in the Philippines…”.

On March 5th, the PFF Disciplinary Committee sent out notices/orders to 7 individuals to shed light on the event in the form of sworn statements. The list of individuals included players, team management members and match officials.

On March 9th, the Committee further sent notices/orders to 4 more individuals including team and match officials. These sworn statements were received by the Committee between March 8th and 23rd.

On April 18th, the Committee finally received the official complaint of Ms. Ramos which was dated March 11th. Two days later, Ms. Ramos was furnished copies of the sworn statements of 9 of the 11 individuals who had responded to the notice/order by the Committee. Ms. Ramos was directed to submit her consolidated reply on April 27th or a week after she was furnished the responses to her complaint.

On April 27th, Ms. Ramos sent a written request to the Disciplinary Committee asking for more time to submit her consolidated reply. She asked that she be given until May 5th to submit this, a request that was granted. Ms. Ramos never sent her reply.

On May 14th, the Disciplinary Committee served notice that given the failure of Ms. Ramos to submit her reply, the case was deemed submitted for resolution.

I learned of the decision last night. Press reports quote Ms. Ramos as saying that she is “disgusted” by the decision. Comments also attributed to Ms. Ramos say that the length of time it took for the decision to come out worked against her favor. Of course, as with many things, this is all relative. It could be taken as a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. A quick resolution opens you up to charges of “railroading”. Taking a while to decide opens you to allegations that something is being covered up. Compared to how the Philippine judicial system works, this decision took a nanosecond. Ms. Ramos probably didn’t help move things along by delaying the submission of her formal complaint over a month and a half after the incident which is the object of her complaint. She did ask for an extension for the submission of her reply to the counter-affidavits, which is well within her rights and which she was granted. A reply which the Committee waited for in vain.

Contrary to what Ms. Ramos stated, there is an Appeals Committee from which she can ask for a review of  of the case. To those who have been paying attention, the Committee is headed by former Comelec Commissioner Atty. Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal. This Committee has been active this year having disposed of the Hartmann case and the Springdale (Cebu) case.

I do hope that Ms. Ramos, who talks about following protocol all the time, walks the talk and files an appeal in the proper forum which is this Committee so that her serious allegations are given their due course one way or another. There will probably never be a sense of finality for all of the participants for this sad episode but the court of public opinion is probably not the proper forum for this case.