FORMER management and support staff of the Powerade team left out when the franchise was sold to a new owner said they are open to negotiations with the team's old management in their bid for just compensation.
Kenneth Duremdes, speaking on behalf of the 13 former team members seeking a buyout of their remaining contracts with Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc., made their collective stand on Monday after taking their case to the office of PBA Commissioner Chito Salud.
“Everything naman is negotiable,” said Duremdes following their hour-long meeting with Salud at the PBA office in Libis. “Ang nangyari kasi sa offer nila, parang 75 percent nung natitirang kontrata namin will not be honored.”
The group tried to contact former Powerade team governor Ronnie Asuncion in front of Salud, but failed to get in touch with him.
Still, Duremdes said they are giving the Coca-Cola executive the benefit of the doubt after Salud himself vowed to personally talk to Asuncion and persuade him to open a new round of talks with the people who were not absorbed by new team owner Sultan 900 Inc. when the sale of the Powerade franchise for P100 million was sealed two months ago.
“Naghihintay lang naman kami. At tsaka nangako naman si commissioner na he will try to personally talk to Mr (Ronnie) Asuncion,” Duremdes said.
Duremdes said Salud bared that only the contract of players and some members of the coaching staff were included in the Powerade sale to Global Port. That only bolstered their belief that Coca-Cola management should honor their live contracts, insisted the former PBA MVP.
“Usually ganun daw ang nangyayari sa mga bentahan ng teams,” Duremdes said. “Wala naman kaming problema doon kung ganun talaga ang arrangement. Basta ang sa amin, bayaran lang kung ano 'yung nararapat sa amin.”
Initially, the group said Asuncion told them the company is not going to honor their contracts. Instead, he offered them a financial package equivalent to one month's salary per year of stay, a proposal which they all naturally turned down.
Aside from Duremdes, who was formerly Powerade team manager, also seeking compensation from their former ballclub are assistant team manager Gerard Francisco, assistant coach George Ella, reserve players Rodney Santos, Cesar Catli, Ronjay Enrile, and Dale Singson, all of whom play as part of the Coca-Cola Ambassadors, strength and conditioning coach Julio Veloso, team physician Dr. Pablo Santos, team coordinator Cris Nieto, team assistant Lester Pascua, and physical therapists Rheysson Cornilla and Benigno Espeleta.
“Ang gusto lang naman namin maayos ito sa mabuting usapan, dahil hindi lang naman kami ang apektado rito, pati pamilya rin naman namin,” added Duremdes, a nine-time All Star and voted one of the 25 Greatest PBA players of all-time.
At the same time, he didn’t discount the possibility of the group bringing the case to the courts if no amicable settlement is reached.
“Pero as much as possible ayaw naming umabot pa 'yun sa ganun. Kung mapag-uusapan ng maayos, mas maganda di ba?” he said.