IN RE: COMPLAINT OF CRISTINA RAMOS Against Lexton Moy and Angel GuiradoPosted: September 1, 2012
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.
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.