Foul! Why I won’t vote for this PBA

Philippine Basketball Association, it’s called. Thirty years old, it’s popular, calls James Yap, Dondon Hontiveros, and Jayjay Helterbrand as its superstars, and it is Asia’s oldest pro basketball league. That’s the PBA. You know this, I know this.

Well, guess what? Another group has called itself P.B.A. They name themselves Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta and, this Monday, they’ll be one of nearly 200 party-list groups.

Don’t vote for them! Do you know what they did to Paeng Nepomuceno? The six-time  World Bowling champion, Paeng is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records with three world records.

This PBA party-list, without asking for permission, posted Nepomuceno’s photo and name in their advertisement. In a full-page ad that appeared in the March-April issue of the magazine Badminton Xtreme Philippines, there was Paeng “endorsing” the PBA.

“No, I am not running for any position,” complained Paeng in columnist Bill Velasco’s The Philippine Star column last April 19 (“Paeng: ‘PBA Partylist used me without consent’”). Paeng added: “PBA Partylist used my name and picture without my authorization.”

This is misleading. “Even their nominee is not an athlete,” added Bill Velasco. “When PBA Partylist started out in the last campaign, retired PBA All-Star Jerry Codinera and former PBA player and team manager Orly Castelo were involved. Now, no sports personality outside of Pacquiao (who is actually running for his own congressional seat in Sarangani province) is even running for the partylist.”

Yes, it looks like Manny Pacquiao is involved with this PBA. Reportedly, he is their chairman. But what’s deceiving here is this: It appears as if Pacquiao is their party-list nominee. From the dozens of posters that I see around Cebu City, specifically near my home in Talamban, this PBA group has a huge photo of Pacquiao. Is he their nominee? Why is his photo there? While running for congressman in Sarangani, can he also be their party-list nominee?

No way. Pacman, in the event he loses to Roy Chiongbian, can’t be inserted as party-list nominee. But this PBA party-list group (whose poster font design/colors even mimic that of the real PBA basketball league) makes it look that way. Miles Roces, the PBA party-list’s second nominee , in a Sun.Star story last March 31, was quoted: “He (Pacquiao) can still sit as party-list representative. I-eelect lang naman ng board namin si Manny at siya na ang magiging rep namin sa Kongreso (All our board has to do is elect Manny and he becomes our representative in Congress).” Crazy. This is unlawful.

Back to that full-page ad of this shady PBA, it included, apart from Paeng, 11 more athletes/“endorsers.” Included were, among others, Monsour del Rosario and Efren Reyes with the headline that stated: “Top Athletes Join Forces for PBA Partylist.”

This is garbage. Added Bill Velasco in his subsequent, May 1 article (“Monsour, Asuncions wary of PBA Partylist): “As it turns out, del Rosario was under the impression that he was endorsing Pacquiao himself, not the PBA Partylist’s true candidates. The group first fielded candidates in the last elections, but none of their nominees earned enough votes to get into congress.

“Given the circumstances, it appears that the group concerned is riding on the popularity of present and former athletes who would gladly do anything to help sports in general, even lending their reputations for free. They are invited with vague promises of ‘helping sports’ and innocently and good-naturedly agree to supporting the party, which has primarily hitched its wagon to Pacquiao’s star. Now, with the election date nearing, more of the athletes are wondering what the candidates really plan to do, since the primary nominees are not known to be involved in sports to begin with. Was their real deception intended?”

This stinks. Clearly, politics and sports don’t mix.

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