Philippine Pool Ablaze… Again

March 31 has been a very full day for fans of Filipino pool. With dueling press releases the long-waged war between the rival factions (the BSCP and the BMPAP) has either finally been resolved or it has not. First, the basics.

The BSCP (the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines) has been the NSA (national sports authority) for Philippine pool and as such has held the recognition of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the recognition of the APBU (Asian Pocket Billiards Federation) and, through them, the WPA (World Pool Association).

Several years ago all of the major powers in Philippine pool were members of the BSCP. But then, sometime after the 2007 World 9-Ball event in Manila, there was a falling-out of the members and a rival organization was formed. This group became the BMPAP (Billiard Managers and Professional Players Association of the Philippines) and consisted of Putch Puyat and his two superstar players Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, Perry Marianno and his group of players that carry the Bugsy Promotions logo along with Jonathan Sly (owner/manager of the Negros stable of players), Edwin Reyes and several other associates.

The two groups became embroiled in a bitter war over control of pool in the Philippines. The BSCP pointed to their recognition by the POC and the APBU and the WPA while the BSCP pointed to their recognition by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) of the Philippines. The BSCP held the cards of their official recognition by the APBU and therefore the WPA while the BMPAP controlled the stars of the games. This control was used in 2008 when the BMPAP entered none of their players in the WPA World 10-Ball Championship in Manila.

Relations between the two groups festered in 2008 without any resolutions appearing. Then, in December of 2008 the BSCP announced that they would be having their board elections. The POC requested that this vote be delayed and the BSCP complied with the request.  

In March of 2009 AZBilliards was informed that the BSCP elections would be held on March 31, 2009. However, when we contacted Yen Makabenta requesting he send us the news and results of the elections he said that this was a ‘rump' election held by the BMPAP and that it was not recognized by the BSCP. We were told that the March 31 election was being conducted by the former members of the BSCP who had left their offices at the BSCP to form the BMPAP and that they had no authority to hold an election as they are not currently board members of the BSCP. We were told that the ‘real' BSCP elections would be conducted on April 29, 2009.   

This brings us roughly up to the point where the two conflicting press releases were issued. First the release as it appeared in the pages of


Posted on 31 March 2009

After a Makati Regional Trial Court judge rejected their request for a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the election of officers of the Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines, BSCP president Ernesto Fajardo and chairman Yen Makabenta were replaced in an election approved by the Philippine Olympic Committee headed by Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.

Chosen as president of the BSCP was Arturo “Bong” Ilagan with the recognized godfather of Philippine pool Aristeo “Putch” Puyat as chairman, Joaquin Perez de Tagle as secretary general and Jonathan Sy as treasurer.

Others elected to the board of directors were Social Weather Station head and pool enthusiast Mahar Mangahas and Manila Bulletin assistant sports editor Willie Caballes.

POC official representative as observer of the elections was Buddy Andrada while POC president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco's special assistant and Athletics chief Go Teng Kok was also present at the elections conducted at Valle Verde.

In an immediate effort to reconcile their differences with the ousted leadership Ilagan issued a seven-point program beginning with his announced desire to “heal the prevailing rift and animosity between the stakeholders in billiards.”

The seven-point program indicated the BSCP would “treat the athletes with respect and fairness in all the activities of the National Sports Association” and assured athletes that there will be “fairness in the selection of players that will play in events where the country is invited.”

The new leadership of the BSCP committed to work for the “development of amateur players particularly among the youth” even as it assured all stakeholders that none of its officers and members “can use the NSA to promote personal interests.”

The statement also said the BSCP will coordinate all its programs with the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission and finally that it would “promote harmony and cooperation among stakeholders of billiards with the end in view of raising the standard of the sport and ultimately bring honor for the country.”

In denying the application for a TRO for lack of merit the court said the complainant failed to establish and present evidence that would show a clear invasion of a right that must be protected. The court also sustained the position of the defendants headed by Ilagan that it had no jurisdiction over the case.

The court also noted that the action of the BSCP under Fajardo was premature since the matter should have been first brought to the grievance, arbitration and mediation mechanism of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) as stated in its constitution and by-laws, a copy of which was presented by the defendants in court thru lawyer Richard Palpal-latoc of the Rodriguez and Partners Law Firm. It was clear in the said by-laws that the POC shall be the final arbitrator of all intra-NSA conflict and disputes.

End of Article.

Well, that seems to settle everything, doesn't it? But things are never that neat in the Phillipines where government agencies can be at odds with one another and where corruption has been known to rule the day in both local and national politics. AZB has been informed that lawsuits are already underway and may be filed as soon as April 1, 2009 “challenging the regularity and legality of the election called by Puyat”. We have also received a Press Release from Ernie Fajardo, President of the BSCP (whom the previous press release states is no longer the president) which says:

1 March 2009  ?  

The Billiards and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) does not recognize the meeting and election of directors conducted today (March 31) by persons who are not members of the Association. The meeting was irregular and illegal.  

We will proceed with our scheduled elections on April 29, 2009 wherein members of good standing of the Association will be able to exercise their rights as such and elect their Board of Directors for the year.  

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has not acted impartially or in line with the Olympic Charter with respect to our membership meeting and board election. We originally scheduled our election on December 5 last year, but the POC requested us to defer the voting on the pretext that some technical requirements still had to be met. As we were scheduling a new date for the meeting, however, the POC board surreptitiously gave its approval to the rump election that was suddenly called by non-members.  

In this, the POC violated the Olympic Charter, which grants reciprocal rights to national Olympic committees and national sports associations. Sadly, this is not the first time that the present board has trampled on NSA autonomy. Several associations are today aggrieved by its abuses.  

Insofar as Philippine laws are concerned, we in the BSCP have followed faithfully all rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Corporation Code. We can answer to the regularity of our actions with respect to membership and association programs. And we are confident in being vindicated in any litigation that will ensue from this action by non-members of the association.

End of Press Release.

Which brings us to the point on this long and muddy road upon which we now stand. The basic question is: “Who legally controls the BSCP and how does this affect the state of professional pool in the Philippines and the relationships between Filipino pool and the rest of the world pool scene?”  

Unfortunately, it seems once again that it is too early to know for certain and that the issue will still have to be reconciled by the courts. For now, the POC has recognized the March 31 elections and that would seem to carry the day for them. But the group that it seems must take the first decisive action is the APBU. This group must decide who is their representative in the Philippines. And it would not be sufficient to just say: “the BSCP”.  For at this point it is necessary to clarify. Is this the BSCP as represented by Yen Makabenta and the Board of Directors as it stood on March 30 or is it the BSCP as represented by the group of officers who were elected in the March 31 contest?  

The APBU is in a less than desirable position. On the one hand, the BSCP as represented by the group headed by Fajardo and Makabenta is also the group charged with producing two major events this year – the Philippine Open and the WPA World Ten Ball Championships. On the other hand, the new elections are recognized by the POC and the past relationship with the POC is that the group they recognize is the official NSA and therefore the group that is a member of the APBU.

At this point both sides have assured us that the two major events will proceed uninterrupted. But it would be difficult to argue that no ill effects will come of the present situation. Surprises seem to come often in the Philippines. We will keep everyone posted on this news as it develops by posting the news as it becomes available. It appears that some resolution of the feud is in order and coming soon. But we have thought that before.