PBA addresses personal issues
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Recent incidents involving PBA players dangerously crossing the line to draw public reaction in racist and family violence issues didn’t escape the attention of commissioner Willie Marcial who just announced a seminar for all teams at the Meralco Theater this Monday.

San Miguel Beer player Arwind Santos was fined P200,000 by the PBA for a “racially derogatory act” aimed at taunting TNT import Terrence Jones during a game in the recent Commissioner’s Cup. Santos was on the sidelines when he mimicked a monkey. Although Santos meant no racial insult and sought only to get under Jones’ skin, his gesture was widely perceived to be tainted with prejudice. Santos initially thought it was harmless but when he realized it had racial undertones, he immediately apologized in social media. He even went up to Jones to apologize personally. Apparently, Jones thought nothing of it.

From a league perspective, it was something to address despite Jones downplaying the incident. Players should realize that whatever they do on or off the court, they’re responsible to the public because they’re celebrities with a wide social media following. To be aware of the implications or repercussions of what they say or do is a matter that the league intends to stress during the coming seminar.

Phoenix Pulse player Calvin Abueva was fined P20,000 for a verbal altercation with a female fan and P50,000 for a flagrant foul penalty 2 in clotheslining Jones during a game. Abueva’s confrontation with the fan, actually Blackwater star Ray Ray Parks’ girlfriend, stemmed from an exchange of insults. Abueva has also been accused by his wife of physical abuse inflicted on her and their children. He is currently on indefinite suspension.

A few weeks back, Abueva met with Marcial to discuss how to atone for his shortcomings at the PBA office. Also present at the meeting were PBA director of basketball operations Eric Castro, PBA legal counsel Atty. Melvin Mendoza and Phoenix team manager Paolo Bugia. Abueva has been permitted to resume practicing with Phoenix but must still fulfill certain undisclosed conditions before he is cleared to return to action officially.

Players, coaches and team officials will be invited to attend the seminar featuring two lectures. One lecture is on prejudice – racism/racial discrimination in sports to be delivered by Dr. Jasmin Nario-Galace, vice president for academic affairs and professor at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College and executive director of the Center for Peace Education. The other lecture is on violence against women and children to be delivered by Atty. Ariel Magno, formerly a PBA alternative governor with Sta. Lucia Realty. 

Atty. Magno, who is familiar with PBA affairs having worked with former PBA chairman Buddy Encarnado, will talk about Philippine laws that protect women and children from any kind of abuse. He is also expected to explain the different types of abuse that violate the law.

Dr. Galace has authored or co-authored publications on peace education, conflict resolution, arms control and women, peace and security. She is also president of Pax Christi Pilipinas and chair of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines; Justice and Peace Education Committee. Dr. Galace is a member of the Board of the Philippine Council for Global and Peace Education and currently leads the Peace Education Network. She is in the steering Board of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and the International Action Women’s Network on Small Arms.

Both experts will be available for questions and consultation during the forum. The seminar is timely not only because of the recent incidents that sparked widespread reaction but also because there are imports playing in the Governors Cup. The arrival of more and more Fil-foreigners to play in the PBA is another reason why the seminar is particularly relevant.

It’s a positive sign that the PBA isn’t just focusing on basketball-related concerns. The impact that PBA players as major influencers impress on the social environment is far-reaching and they must be aware of how their acts or words could affect the public, specially the fans, whether positively or negatively. Clearly, the coming seminar is a must for everyone in the PBA to attend.

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