By WAYLON GALVEZ • JEROME LAGUNZAD
Trouble is brewing at the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) following the decision of seven member teams not to renew the contract of PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa, an action branded as unauthorized and illegal by five other teams.
In a development that could threaten the existence of the 42-year-old professional league, the opposing groups recognize two heads of the commissioner’s office.
Led by incoming league chairman Ramon Fernandez of NLEX, the seven-team bloc decided not to extend Narvasa’s team and designated PBA deputy commissioner Rickie Santos as officer-in-charge.
“To clear the matter, we are not expelling Commissioner Narvasa. We know that it takes two-thirds of votes to expel him. So we’re just letting his term expire at the end of the 42nd season,” Fernandez said. “Ang iniisip namin, para sa kabutihan at kagandahan ng ating liga. That’s why we’re doing this.”
Fernandez did not provide details behind their decision.
“It’s a simple loss of confidence, among other things, including performance,” he said.
Fernandez presided over the board meeting yesterday also attended by Talk ‘N Text’s Patrick Gregorio, Al Panlilio of Meralco, Alaska’s Richard Bachmann, lawyer Mamerto Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Blackwater’s Siliman Sy and lawyer Raymond Zorilla of Phoenix.
Five team members – San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Star, GlobalPort and Kia – did not attend the meeting.
Hours after news of Narvasa’s exit broke out, San Miguel Beer governor Robert Non, representing the five teams, announced that Narvasa is staying as commissioner “because the rules, policies and principles that govern the PBA are on his side.”
“They cannot just act on a whim. What they are doing is not in accordance with our by-laws and constitution. All five teams – San Miguel, Ginebra, Star, Kia and GlobalPort – stand behind Commissioner Narvasa. He enjoys our full support and we have prevailed upon him to stay and do what is right,” said Non.
Non said the move to remove Narvasa is unauthorized and not binding under the league’s by-laws and constitution.
“These officials do not constitute the majority needed to remove or appoint the commissioner and thereafter, make any changes in the PBA structure,” said Non.
Under the PBA rules, a majority in board is two-thirds of its current membership, which is eight of the current 12 members. In this context, only a majority vote of two-thirds of the league board membership is required by its by-laws and constitution to remove Narvasa, according to Non.
Non also said that PBA rules require a seven-day notice before a meeting is called, making yesterday’s meeting unauthorized. The notice of meeting was only given last Oct. 30.
“So without this clear majority, all changes being made by these renegade members are not allowed, including the appointment of Rickie Santos as officer-in-charge, and would not be binding on the whole board membership,” Non said.
“This includes as well the misrepresentation of NLEX board member Ramon Fernandez as PBA chairman, when in fact, the sitting chairman is still Globalport’s Mikee Romero,” he added.
Non said the seven-team bloc cannot cite any instance that would back their claims up, “save for the MVP teams dissatisfaction with the recent trade consummated between the San Miguel Beermen and Kia Picanto.”
Non said he was informed that prior to yesterday’s meeting, five members of the “renegade” bloc, met with Narvasa at the UCC Cafe in Libis last Oct. 30.
Narvasa attended the meeting on the belief that it was only with Fernandez to discuss PBA’s planning session, but when he arrived at the venue, four other board members – Dioceldo Sy (Blackwater), Mert Mondragon (Rain of Shine), Raymund Zorilla (Phoenix), and Dickie Bachmann (Alaska) – were also there to discuss his removal from his post as commissioner.
“This move does not sit well with the rest of us board members. Any move should be made in the proper forum and must be covered the league’s rules and regulations. Any move beyond this is definitely not allowed,” Non said.
Non cited that the group backing the move to remove Commissioner Narvasa has the habit of changing commissioners at a whim, citing the decisions to remove Commissioner Noli Eala and Sonny Barrios in the past.
“If we allow that to happen, then this will weaken the Commissioner’s Office and turn it into a puppet of whoever is the most powerful among the team owners,” Non said.
The controversy comes eight days ahead of the PBA planning session set in Los Angeles, California.
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