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Barrios explains PBA process

MANILA, Philippines — With the PBA in a state of crisis over the retention or termination of commissioner Chito Narvasa’s contract, SBP executive director and former PBA commissioner Sonny Barrios yesterday shed light on the procedures that decide issues of appointment at the end of every season.

Barrios, who was the PBA’s seventh commissioner for three years and previously served in various other capacities for nearly two decades, said without taking sides on Narvasa’s case, there are three principal decisions that the Board makes after each season. “First, the Board elects its new officers,” he said. “Second, the budget is approved for the coming season. And third, the Board renews or doesn’t renew the terms of three key positions, the commissioner, Board secretary and executive director. Since there is no current executive director, the positions to be reviewed are commissioner and Board secretary.”

Barrios said if the Board decides to terminate the commissioner during the season, a 2/3 vote is required. But in the usual process of review at the end of the season, contracts are considered to be expired and renewals must be made on a 2/3 vote. “In commissioner Chito’s case, he’s not being expelled so there’s no need for a 2/3 vote,” said Barrios. “His contract, however, has lapsed. So it’s now up to the Board whether or not to renew his appointment and if he’s renewed, it will require a 2/3 vote.”

Barrios said the key is for a commissioner to serve effectively with the trust and confidence of the Board. “It was founding PBA commissioner Leo Prieto who declared he would step down if ever he lost the Board’s confidence,” he said. “Commissioner Rudy Salud once challenged a PBA governor to find somebody else in the Board to side with him on a point of disagreement and promised to give in to his position if there was another vote. There was no other vote. My question is if a commissioner does not enjoy the support of seven of 12 governors, can he still function effectively? If the majority has expressed loss of confidence, it becomes an untenable situation. The commissioner serves at the Board’s pleasure, whether it’s for one day, one week, one month or 10 years.”


Barrios said if last Thursday’s Board meeting was called without due notice, then whatever was taken up is stricken off the records. “If the meeting was called without complying with the rules stipulated in the By-Laws, then the resolution of the seven attending governors to terminate the commissioner doesn’t hold,” he said. “Another meeting must be called to comply with the rules then the Board can take up whatever is in the agenda for resolution.”

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Regarding Kia’s recent trade of Christian Standhardinger to San Miguel Beer for three seldom-used veterans and a 2019 first round pick, Barrios said the commissioner has the prerogative to veto any deal that is not in the interest of the league. “No trade is ever 100 percent even,” he said. “As much as possible, the commissioner gives in to the wishes of the trading parties because after all, they’re consenting adults. In Standhardinger’s case, you ask if the trade serves the best interest of the league considering the goal of parity. During the late commissioner Salud’s term, there was an agreement that Ramon Fernandez, Abet Guidaben and Manny Victorino could never play for the same team to preserve competitive balance in the league. In the NBA, I don’t think the commissioner would ever agree to Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell playing for the same team. I think JuneMar (Fajardo) and Standhardinger together will tilt the balance in the PBA. That’s just my opinion without prejudice to commissioner Chito’s prerogative.”

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