CEBU City – In any kind of sports competition, players, officials, and coaches alike swears to always uphold sportsmanship. To adhere to the tenets of fair play, obey and follow the parameters of the rules and regulations like breathing – from the beginning to the end.
Fair play and sportsmanship, the unwritten rule inculcated to the minds of every athlete either in the developmental or in the elite level, however, is always subjective to the interpretation of the coaches or the institution he served.
That is why every sports organization, especially school-based leagues have a special division of experts who are tasked to look into the documents of all athletes. And it is an additional burden to the screening committee whenever they encountered tampered or fraudulent documents.
The Cebu School Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) is not new to this. Taking painstaking lessons from its predecessor, the Cebu Amateur Athletic Association (CAAA), CESAFI tried to perfect its rules and regulations, especially on its athlete’s eligibility.
Tampered, faked, forged, phony records will be scrutinized by the trained eyes of the CESAFI Screening Committee headed by Dr. Danilo Villadolid, who has years of experience being a member of the screening committee of Palarong Pambansa, where tampered and phony records were staples each year.
Remember 2015 Season? CESAFI banned five Phinma-SWU Cobras Juniors players and four more under further investigation for tampering their birth record to meet the required age cut-off.
It was the biggest pre-season scandal CESAFI ever had that prompted the school to withdraw its participation from the (Juniors) competition, to avert more sanctions, and disgrace.
Despite the watchful eyes of the screening team, this time they failed to notice one discrepancy – Evan Jose Agbong, of University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars Seniors Basketball Team, who was accused of manipulating his records to earn a slot to the school’s varsity team. In fairness it’s not the fault of the screening committee since their main concern is to catch those who will try sneak into the league using tampered documents.
CESAFI posted on its Facebook page the today (Nov. 12, 2023) chronicling event that took place on Agbong’s case. Accordingly, the investigation started on October 14, in which they informed USJ-R of the ongoing investigation on the player’s records with Liceo de Cagayan University.
According to iNews.Ph source, USJ-R submitted Agbong’s JRU school record but according to the source Agbong was dropped by the NCAA-member school, prompting him to return to Cagayan de Oro City and enrol at Liceo.
A Facebook post by Liceo de Cagayan University Communications and Promotions dated May 11 (this year) congratulated its basketball team, the Titans, for finishing runner up in the PCCL Escandor Cup 2023 – Mindanao Finals, in where Agbong is one of the mentioned players.
CESAFI deputy commissioner Atty. Boyet Velez approached USJR bench on October 14, on Oct. 17, USJR submitted to CESAFI the TOR of Agbong from Liceo. It was noted that it was released in July, two months before the deadline of submission of credentials. Yet, USJ-R opt to submit the JRU records and not the Liceo’s which happened to be the last school he attended.
CESAFI sent a communication to Liceo to validate the authenticity of Agbong’s TOR last Nov. 3 and was acknowledged on Nov. 6. However no further action was made by the Cagayan de Oro City-based school.
“CESAFI believes that because of the law of Data Privacy, Liceo will not respond to their request. Thus, to find out the truth and to clear the name of Agbong, CESAFI ask the latter to sign an authorization letter, but they were refused.”
“Because of this development, CESAFI will be asking the help of the Commission of High Education (CHED) to secure the TOR of Agbong from Liceo. Until CESAFI secures the TOR of Agbong from Liceo, the eligibility of Agbong is still in question,” read CESAFI Facebook post.
CESAFI rules require athletes to submit the records of the last two semesters attended as its basis of eligibility.
This looks like USJ-R has knowledge of the history of Agbong’s school records but choose to submit the one that is “safe” from further scrutiny of the screening committee.
Another source of iNews revealed that Agbong was denied participation in the Regional PRISAA Meet because of his record. His teammate with Liceo, Earl Laniton, who is now with the Cebu Roosevelt Memorial College of Bogo City (one of the 3 guest teams of CESAFI this year), was also disqualified in Northern Mindanao PRISAA tournament. Since he did not meet the minimum grade requirements, he was later disqualified to play in CESAFI.
USJ-R is not new on this matter, in late 1990s (CAAA time), one of their prized recruit Romeo Clar Jr. was banned for life because of a tampered high school record.
“This is a blatant disrespect to CESAFI. A mockery of our rules and to test our intellect. CESAFI should take harsh action against the erring parties, including the school. Since this is a clear attempt to cover-up – from the player, coaching staff, and the school. If CESAFI can impose harsh penalties on coaches and players, why not the school?” a school coach told iNews.Ph on condition of anonymity.
Ironically, Cagayan de Oro school-based player was the subject of this controversy just like in 2015 with SWU Baby Cobras’ case.