Cebu News

Due to “Defective” decision: CESAFI defies court order

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - What was expected to be a crucial basketball game between the Cebu Eastern College Dragons and the University of  San Carlos Baby Warriors in the 13th Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. season turned into an intense legal battle inside the Cebu Coliseum that ended up with the CESAFI defying a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by court relative to the civil case filed by the parents of USC Player Scott Aying against the league.

Instead, CESAFI commissioner Felix "Boy" O. Tiukinhoy, Jr., upon the advice of the league's legal counsels Baldomero "Merong" C. Estenzo and Marvin Pañares, had the game postponed to Friday.

Danny Aying and his wife Avah Michelle lodged a case against the CESAFI before the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 for disallowing their child from playing in the juniors division this season for violating the rules on residency.

Named respondents in the case were Tiukinhoy, CESAFI president Manny Uy, SJ of the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, and screening committee members Jess Himotas and Danny Duran.

Moments before the scheduled 5 p.m. match, Scott's mother Avah Michelle together with their legal counsel Donato Gonzales and court server Fritz Mejias arrived at the playing venue to serve the TRO issued by Judge Simeon Dumdum, sparking a heated legal discourse between the lawyers of the opposing sides that lasted for a little over two hours.

In his decision, Dumdum stated that "the matter having been brought upon the prayer of petitioners in their Petition for a Temporary Restraining Order, the Court, after hearing the same, finds a need to maintain the status quo until the merits can be heard, and so issue this Temporary Restraining Order, directing the respondents, their agents or representatives, for a period of twenty (20) days from service upon them or any of them a copy of this Order, to allow Scott Aying to play beginning today in the games of the 13th CESAFI season."

"This is not a victory because the damage has been done. But we are eternally grateful to the "Father" in this honorable court in granting the TRO for suturing the wound that has blighted petitioner minor Aying's well-being," said Gonzales, counsel for the petitioners. "The CESAFI could have been more circumspect and mindful of its actions, for children are the most vulnerable citizens in our society."

However, Tiukinhoy and Pañares said the league couldn't easily accept the court's order, which they find defective specifically because of the date of issue, which is September 16 instead of September 18, and of the contradictory statements in the decision.

"If they cite me for contempt, then I am ready to go to jail," said Tiukinhoy. "I just couldn't accept this decision that is defective in terms of the date [that it was issued]. The hearing happened today (yesterday) and I was there. The judge even told me that he could not yet issue a TRO because he has to study the case further and all of a sudden here comes the TRO. How could that be?"

On his end, Pañares contended there was really no 'status quo' at all as even before the league's Season 13 kicked off last August 3, the CESAFI Board has already ruled that Scott Aying is not qualified to play in the tournament for not complying with the league's residency rules.

Section B, Paragraph 5 of the amended rules and regulations for CESAFI 2012-2013 stipulates that "any high school student athlete of a CESAFI member school who transfers to another member school shall be required a minimum of two-year residence to qualify to play. The period of this residency shall be counted as part of his/her playing years. However, any student athlete from a disbanded member school team shall be eligible to play without the required residency."

In the case of Aying, he suited up for the Don Bosco Technology Center (DBTC) Greywolves, a CESAFI member school, in 2011. The following year, however, he joined his coach Britt Reroma in San Beda College in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) based in Manila.

But because Reroma had to return to Cebu to take care of his ailing father, he eventually left San Beda and later got an offer to call the shots for USC. Reroma then contacted Scott Aying and offered him a spot in the USC-Basic Education Department.

On that ground, the CESAFI screening committee led by Duran decided that Scott Aying should be barred from seeing action in the league, which was later upheld by the CESAFI Board prior to the start of the season.

For trying to field in Aying during their season-opening match against the UV Baby Lancers, Reroma was even recommended by Tiukinhoy to be suspended for the rest of the season for conduct unethical of a coach.

The CESAFI Board upheld the commissioner's recommendation, but in the spirit of sportsmanship, Tiukinhoy decided to waive his earlier decision.

"With that, there was really no 'status quo' as Scott Aying has been disqualified from playing in the CESAFI from the very start. He did not even play a single game this season," said Pañares.

In an effort to come up with a win-win solution for both parties, Tiukinhoy, Estenzo and Pañares agreed to reset the game for Friday, with the assurance that they will appear before the court for an oral argument this morning to clear things up with judge Dumdum.

"I would like to announce that the game between CEC and USC will be posponed this Friday, September 20 at the same time and venue. We have to clear things first because there wasn't really a clear-cut decision by the court," said Tiukinhoy.

Gonzales, however, said they're still objecting CESAFI's decision, with USC sports coordinator Galimar Largo insisting that they really wanted to play to comply with their schedule.

Aside from the CEC-USC duel, the other secondary match between the SHS-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles and the University of the Visayas (UV) Baby Lancers that was supposed to take place at 6:45 last night was also postponed.

Fans who intently watched the hardcourt drama did not get refund for their tickets but were issued new ones so they can still watch the games this Friday. — With Gabby G. Malagar (FREEMAN)










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