MANILA, Philippines -- The chief backer of the controversial Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup is asking the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) to reconsider its suspension of the league's Mindanao leg.
GAB, the agency that regulates professional sports in the country, announced on Sunday that it is suspending the Mindanao leg of the competition in the wake of the now-infamous contest between Siquijor and Lapu-Lapu City last week.
The game, played last Wednesday, has been decried as a "travesty" by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), after players on both sides missed point blank layups and free throws. It was stopped at the halftime break by GAB and league officials on the ground at the Alcantara Civic Center in Cebu.
Last Thursday, the league announced that it is imposing a lifetime ban on players and coaches of Siquijor, while several players and coaches of Lapu-Lapu City were fined and suspended. The SBP has also warned of possible sanctions at the federation level, and GAB is continuing its investigation.
The primary sponsor of the VisMin Super Cup, Chooks-to-Go, is disappointed at GAB's decision to suspend the Mindanao leg, which would have started on May 20 in Dipolog City.
"(GAB's) decision to suspend the entire Mindano leg… is not just simply going overboard; it is going berserk," Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas said in a statement, Monday afternoon.
"Let us hope GAB reconsiders its decision," he also said.
For Mascariñas, the decision to suspend the Mindanao leg defied logic, given that GAB allowed the Visayas leg to push through even in the wake of controversy.
"The only way to justify such better-safe-than-sorry preemptive action is to suspect the entire Mindanao leg of serious copycat tendencies, or worst, possible agreement to commit the same April 14 infamy," said Mascariñas.
"In law and ordinary logic, the only way to attribute an act of one as an act of all is to prove conspiracy -- a meeting of the minds to commit a wrong. GAB did not even bother to offer any ground acceptable to a reasonable mind exercising ordinary judgment as remotely sufficient to justify its action," he added.
"If wrongful acts committed in a single match in Cebu, and not by any means attributable to all the teams playing in the Visayas leg, did not stop the games there, by what contorted stretch of logic or the imagination did it justify the wholesale suspension of the games in Mindanao?"
While Mascariñas lauded the agency for its swift response to the farcical Siquijor-Lapu Lapu City game, he also pointed out that those who will compete in the Mindanao leg should be "presumed innocent until proven guilty."
"By suspending the Mindanao leg, the GAB went all over itself by introducing, in effect, a novel double presumption – that teams there are presumed to be presumed guilty of wrongful tendencies for acts committed elsewhere, and by strangers," he said.
"It is as if the time-honored presumption of innocence, and the basic elements of due process, and finding probable cause, or basic logic, are mere logical, legal, or ethical niceties it can fully dispense with, anytime," he added.
Mascariñas noted that in suspending the Mindanao leg, players and coaches who had nothing to do with the Siquijor-Lapu Lapu City game are being deprived of their livelihoods.
"By suspending the Mindanao leg wholely, it allows the right to be held hostage by wrong, the many who are innocent, to be hijacked by the few," he said.
"The purpose of justice in sports is to protect the love of the game, our players, our fans, and our patrons. Ultimately, because of its powerful impact, for good or ill, on the moral fiber of society, it is to protect ourselves," he also said.
"This cannot be served by curing a wrong with another wrong, especially when it is a bigger wrong."
ABS-CBN News has reached out to GAB chairman Baham Mitra for his response to Mascariñas' appeal.
A total of nine teams were set to compete in the Mindanao leg of the league: the Basilan Peace Riders, Cagayan De Oro Rafters, the Zamboanga Los Valientes, the Pagadian Explorers, the Roxas Vanguards, Sindagan Saints, and teams from Tawi-Tawi; Valencia City, Bukidnon and Ozamis.
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