FOLLOWING the sudden withdrawal of Greg Slaughter and Marcio Lassiter from Gilas Pilipinas, a law is now being eyed to mandate players to make themselves available to national team duty.
Games and Amusement Board (GAB) commissioner Atty. Aquil Tamano made the suggestion as he stressed the government body has no right to revoke the playing licenses of both Slaughter and Lassiter as there is no current provision that makes refusal to don the national colors punishable under the law.
Dasmarinas City congressman Elpidio Barzaga had earlier urged GAB to suspend the licenses of Slaughter and Lassiter after they declined the invitation to become part of the Gilas Pilipina pool for the coming Fiba-World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“We don’t have jurisdiction to suspend Slaughter and Lassiter on the basis that they are not willing to serve the country playing for the national team,” said Tamano in a talk with Spin.ph.
Under the law, the GAB official said the agency can only revoke the license of a player based on three accounts – failure to pass a drug test, an unsportsmanlike conduct, and involvement in game fixing.
He said the law is contained in Presidential Decree 871, which placed the sport of basketball and other professional games under the supervision and regulation of GAB.
The youthful lawyer suggested for Congress to amend the law that will give GAB the right to suspend or revoke the license of a player who will refuse to see action for the national team without a valid reason.
“They have to make a law. Gawa sila ng batas na specifically stating that magkakaroon kami (GAB) ng powers to suspend (athletes) based on that,” said Tamano.
“As of now, we do not have the power or jurisdiction to do that.”
He added, “they should make a law stating that all professional athletes, PBA players included, are required to play for the national team when they are called, or they will be suspended.”
The brother of former senatorial candidate Adel Tamano though, said the side of the players should also be heard.
“May constitutional rights din ang mga yan (athletes). May human rights na we cannot deprive them of their living. Hanapbuhay nila yan eh,” added the government official.
Tamano disclosed the GAB had already sent Slaughter and Lassiter a letter demanding that they explain their withdrawal from the national team.
But when asked what consequence or reprimand the agency can do, Tamano sounded helpless.
“Wala eh. We will just wait for their explanation. Pero to appease (the public and Congress), we already sent them (Lassiter and Slaughter) a letter. And we told them to explain immediately,” said Tamano.
Slaughter and Lassiter both cited they are giving way to the 12 original members of Gilas Pilipinas team whom they thought deserved to be included in the final roster of the team that will compete in the World Cup and the Asiad.
Tamano admitted being a rabid follower of the PBA and said he believes there was no malice on the surprise pullout made by Slaughter and Lassiter.
“Matagal na ako nanonood ng PBA at ng Gilas. And lagi naman ako nakatutok sa games. Si Slaughter kaya naman nag beg off yan, third string lang siya eh,” said Tamano, who mentioned the likes of Beau Belga, June Mar Fajardo, and either naturalized players Marcus Douthit or Andray Blatche as possibly among those being considered ahead of the Ginebra rookie center.
“Same thing with Lassiter. Actually mas marami pa ngang kaagaw sa pwesto si Marcio sa guard spot,” he added.
In light of the controversy, Barzaga, who is also chairman of the games and amusement committee in the Lower House, said he will summon both Slaughter and Lassiter to a congressional inquiry to shed light on the matter.