TIMELINE: PBA and the Rhose Montreal controversy
MANILA, Philippines – The PBA was dipped into hot water after the allegation that marketing head Rhose Montreal falsified her college diploma turned out to be true.
Montreal opted to resign after the allegation came to fore but the 41-year-old league has decided to rehire her. The PBA has since been faced with an uproar from fans for taking back Montreal.
Rappler traces the key events so far of this issue through statements, social media posts, and news reports.
February 13, 2016
Talk 'N Text import Ivan Johnson was fined Php 250,000 and banned for life from the PBA for “addressing the Commissioner with profanities and showing utter disrespect for authority,” according to a league statement.
Johnson, who was called for a flagrant foul penalty one in a play, cursed as he was looking away from Narvasa and the commissioner rose to his feet, pointed a finger at the player and had to be restrained. Johnson incurred a technical foul.
Some fans thought Narvasa's actions were unbecoming of a PBA Commissioner, also noting a previous incident where he pointed a finger at Alaska shooting guard Dondon Hontiveros following a scuffle between him and Globalport forward Jay Washington during the Philippine Cup semifinals. Fans began calling for Narvasa's resignation.
Snow Badua, a Spin.ph reporter banned by the PBA, posted a series of tweets on his personal account showing photos of Montreal’s college diploma from the University of the Philippines, claiming she was a cum laude.
Badua was questioning the signatures on the diploma and the timing of Montreal’s graduation. All of his tweets included the hashtag #NarvasaResign, which trended on Twitter after Badua called for fans to tweet with the hashtag at 7 pm. The hashtag had at least 16,000 tweets.
Badua was banned “from all PBA activities” on September 19, 2015 by commissioner Narvasa for his social media posts regarding Barangay Ginebra team manager Alfrancis Chua that were deemed “a concoction of an evil and malicious mind.” The PBA statement said Narvasa investigated the issue and determined that Badua “used different media platforms to malign, embarrass and mortify a person of authority of this association.”
(RELATED: PBA reduces ban, fine on TNT import Johnson)
Badua published a text and video story on his personal website alleging Montreal faked her college diploma from UP.
The video quickly circulated through social media.
The PBA Board “discussed in an executive session today the alleged reports in social media relating to Ms Rhose Montreal,” as stated in a press release distributed to media.
Incumbent chairman Robert Non “had earlier instructed Ms. Montreal to explain in writing her answer to the alleged reports.” But Montreal “requested to appear and personally explain her side to the PBA Governors during the regular meeting.”
After Montreal’s explanation, she promptly submitted her resignation letter and “after further deliberation, the board accepted” it.
During a special meeting where the PBA Board appointed commissioner Narvasa as league CEO, the board also tackled the reinstatement of Montreal as marketing director of the PBA. The league statement, released on March 9, said Montreal made an appeal to reapply for her old position, and, after “lengthy deliberations,” was approved by the board “primarily, among others, for humanitarian reasons because of her exemplary performance.”
Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu, in a story on the Philippine Daily Inquirer first published in its newspaper edition before being uploaded online on March 11, declared Montreal’s rehiring “speaks poorly of the PBA as a professional organization.”
Uytengsu, whose governor Dickie Bachmann was reported to be the only one who voted against Montreal’s rehiring, was also quoted as saying, “It’s disappointing, because now, effectively, we’re saying: ‘It’s OK.’”
It was also confirmed in this story that UP said Montreal is not one of its graduates.
Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy, meanwhile, suggested the need for a meeting among team owners as reported by Spin.ph.
“I believe team owners should sit down, instead of governors and alternate governors sitting on the board, to bring back order, credibility and prestige to the PBA Board,” he was quoted as saying in the report. “It’s about time we go back to the drawing board and chart the future of the PBA. As I say again, the PBA today is an underperforming establishment and organization.”
Uytengsu was also quoted in the same story saying he “wouldn’t be opposed” to a summit among team owners.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer broke the terms of Montreal’s reinstatement with Non saying she “is a new hire” and will be on a 6-month probationary period, with all her benefits, which the report states amounts to more than P1 million, forfeited.
Non said the board rehired Montreal “on the basis of her new application, and that is with legitimate (school) records this time.”
The PBA held a hastily called press conference during the day’s first game at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig. Present were Narvasa, Non, and vice-chairman Eric Arejola.
The press conference, according to Non, was to clarify comments made by team owners in the media and to explain the Montreal case.
“We had a process done with regards to the case of Ms Montreal and the board discussed it lengthily. Even the recommendations and possible sanctions,” Non explained what transpired. “At the end of the day, when Ms Montreal appeared in the board, she really admitted yung ginawa niya (what she did). Humingi naman ng tawad (She asked for forgiveness) then after that she tended her resignation, which the board approved.”
Non reiterated his statements from a day before that in subsequent meetings the PBA Board further discussed Montreal’s application, where they accepted Rhose back on the condition that she starts as a brand new employee once again. She is now on a standard 6-month probationary period with all her previous benefits forfeited.
Non also shed light on who is responsible for Montreal saying: “Based on the constitution and by-laws of the PBA, the hiring and firing of personnel – especially mancomm members, marketing, finance – is vested under the PBA Board. All others fall into the Office of the Commissioner.”
Asked whether or not Montreal’s rehiring may send the wrong signal to brands and corporations, Non responded saying the board entertained other applicants for the post. He also emphasized Montreal’s performance over the years, vastly increasing the PBA’s once P2-million-low revenue at the time of Montreal’s original hiring.
“Gumanda naman ang revenue ng PBA talaga (The PBA’s revenue really improved),” said Non, who also clarified that at the time of Montreal’s first hiring, her application was endorsed and screened before reaching the board.
Non and Narvasa likewise addressed Sy’s claim about the league being “an underperforming establishment and organization.”
Non noted Sy's parameters of "underperforming" was not clearly stated. The chairman offered the PBA met and surpassed its target revenue for the first season. Actual numbers of the target were not disclosed. He also revealed there are currently 4 companies vying to join the PBA, though he did not name them when asked.
“If the league is underachieving, how come there are other teams interested to come in the PBA?” he asked.
However, Non and Narvasa emphasized in the press conference that they welcome the team owners’ comments and them voicing out their opinions serves as a “positive sign” and even an “inspiration” to the board and the PBA.
“We want to be able to improve ourselves and comments coming from the owners are very much welcome. It gives us probably incentive to work harder,” Narvasa said. “It’s never negative when you hear something from the owner.”
A column on the Philippine Star by longtime PBA commentator Quinito Henson revealed that Montreal similarly submitted a fake diploma to her previous employer over 10 years ago, and was asked to resign after the falsification was uncovered. Though her previous employer did vouch for Montreal as a “capable, hard-working and efficient employee with no record of hanky-panky.”
The column also states how some governors were “moved to tears” as Montreal explained to them how she was a “sole bread-winner.”
According to Art. 172 of the Revised Penal Code, the falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents is punishable by “prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods (6 months and a day to 6 years) and a fine of not more than P5,000.”
But no penalty may be imposed unless a case is filed.
When sought for comment during the press conference regarding the possibility of fans filing a case against the PBA on the Montreal issue, Narvasa responded: “They’re free to do that. But Rhose is also free to defend herself in just the same manner the PBA is also free to defend themselves.”
“Everybody has a right,” Non added. – reports from Jane Bracher/Rappler.com