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Sports

Rally on today; it’s make or break for BAP

- Abac Cordero -
A protest rally in the morning then a crucial meeting in the afternoon.

This will be the sports menu today as more than a hundred national athletes take to the streets anew and hopefully meet President Arroyo in Malacañang where they will air their grievances against the country’s top sports officials, particularly Philippine Sports Commission chairman Carlos Tuason and Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit.

The national athletes, who staged a similar protest rally in Malacañang last March, will be led by Jaime Sebastian, president of the Athletes and Coaches Alliance of the Philippines (ACAP).

During their first protest rally, the group failed to get an audience with the President and was received by then Executive Secretary Renato de Villa. This time, according to Sebastian, they were given the assurance by Secretary Alberto Romulo that the President will personally listen to their grievances.

The national athletes, crying foul over the way the country’s top sports leaders have been handling the affairs of Philippine sports, will converge at the Chino Roces bridge in Mendiola before seeking an audience with the President after which they will stage a protest run to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex along Vito Cruz. The rally starts at 8:30 a.m.

Joining the national athletes in the rally are the leaders and members of various civic-oriented groups like the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU). Also confirming his participation in the rally is Fr. Robert Reyes, the "running priest" and a regular fixture in different cause-oriented activities in the country.

But whether or not the President will be there to receive them, Sebastian said the rally will be staged just to remind the Chief Executive that his group will not stop from conducting similar protest actions until their demands are met.

Then in the afternoon, it will be the Basketball Association of the Philippines’ turn to hog the limelight as the two warring factions meet in Makati City to possibly find a solution to their six-month dispute that has led to a suspension by the International Basektball Federation (FIBA).

It is expected to be a make-or-break meeting between the factions led by Gonzalo "Lito" Puyat and Quintellano "Tiny" Literal as the deadline set by the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games Organizing Committee for the submission of the official lineup is set on Sunday.

In case a solution is arrived at, the BAP will still have to inform the FIBA about it in order to have the suspension lifted and therefore, allow the country to field a basketball team to the SEA Games. Otherwise, it could be the first time that the Philippines will not send a basketball team in 21 stagings of the biennial meet.

The most probable solution is to have businessman Manny Pangilinan take over the BAP as Officer-in-Charge. Puyat’s group has agreed to this but Literal’s faction had other things in mind as they continue to claim that they are the legitimate BAP. A second possible solution is the forming for a five-man steering committee, still headed by Pangilinan, until after the SEA Games.

These two alternatives were tackled in a meeting among the two groups and presided over by Pangilinan last Saturday. But it reached a stalemate when Literal’s group insisted that another BAP elections be held after the SEA Games. This was not acceptable to Puyat’s group.

ATHLETES AND COACHES ALLIANCE OF THE PHILIPPINES

BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

CARLOS TUASON AND PHILIPPINE OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

CELSO DAYRIT

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

CHINO ROCES

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY RENATO

GAMES ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

INTERNATIONAL BASEKTBALL FEDERATION

JAIME SEBASTIAN

KILUSANG MAYO UNO

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