PBA players briefed on social issues
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Close to 180 PBA players from 12 teams attended the second edition of the pro league’s development program featuring lectures on discrimination and anti-violence against women and their children (VAWC) at the Meralco Theater last Monday.

The first edition focused on grooming, financial management including tax obligations, mental health and involvement with social media last February. PBA commissioner Willie Marcial instituted the program to address off-the-court issues that are relevant in the players’ lives.

Attendance in Monday’s gathering was mandatory for local players and unexcused absences carried a P15,000 fine. Marcial said he will continue to push for more lectures as often as there are relevant issues emerging that require attention.

Two speakers were lined up for Monday’s program. First was Dr. Jasmin Nario Galace who spoke on prejudice, bullying and raising awareness levels on discrimination. The second was Atty. Ariel Magno who went through the different laws relating to VAWC. Galace is vice president of academic affairs at Miriam College and former executive director of the Center for Peace Education while Magno served in the PBA Board as alternate governor of Sta. Lucia Realty for at least six years and has more than 29 years of legal experience in property, corporate, telecommunications, labor and family law.

Magno was Sta. Lucia governor Buddy Encarnado’s alternate in the PBA Board and said during his term, counseled players on family law. He said he continues to follow the PBA and some of his Sta. Lucia players are still active today, namely Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes.

Magno said awareness is an essential ingredient in the education process particularly as PBA players are public personalities whose words and acts are magnified exponentially in social media. He explained that the VAWC law, embodied in R. A. 9262, refers to any act or a series of acts committed by a person against his wife or former wife, a woman with whom the person had a sexual or dating relationship and a woman with whom he has a common child or against her children. Magno said violence is classified into physical, sexual, psychological and economic. Penalties for punishable acts range from a month and one day to 20 years in prison. 

Magno also briefed the players on R. A. 11313 called the Safe Spaces Act or the “Bawal Bastos” law. It seeks to ensure the protection of women and members of the LGBT community from street and public places harassment. The punishable acts include cursing, cat-calling, wolf-whistling, leering and intrusive gazing, taunting and persistent telling of sexual jokes.

Galace identified several bases of prejudice, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, linguicism, ableism, looksism, ethnocentrism and ageism. She spoke about why some people resort to bullying and how it can be averted by awareness-raising and adaption of peer support. Galace’s talk centered on sensitivity to this social malaise and in a video, she highlighted her presentation with a song by Mark Wills entitled “Don’t Laugh At Me” with this refrain: “Don’t laugh at me, Don’t call me names, Don’t get your pleasure from my pain, In God’s eyes, we’re all the same, Someday, we’ll all have perfect wings, Don’t laugh at me.”

PBA players welcomed the opportunity to learn from the development program. Marcial, for his part, thanked the players for their participation and assured them of his support.

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