Pool Stakeholders Defend Their Sport

Marlon Manalo is just one of the players supporting the BSCP

The Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP), joined by its partner organizations Raya Sports and Star Billiards and a score of player supporters, denounced at a press conference today (4 February) the continuing blackmail and obstructionism perpetrated by predatory managers against the country's billiards development program and culminating in last week's threat of a boycott of BSCP-sanctioned events.

Citing specific instances from the last two decades, BSCP President Ernie Fajardo said, “Enough. Never again will we allow our NSA and our Philippine billiards community to be held hostage by individuals or groups pursuing their private agendas.”

As if to mark a new beginning, the press conference venue was filled to overflowing by players and media representatives. Longtime BSCP member Tony Baranda moved the gathering into applause when he delivered a stirring appeal to the media not to be misled by the falsehoods and double talk of the billiards managers. He stressed that “no single player or group of players is bigger than the sport, or more important than the millions of players and fans across the country.”

He said that if the Filipino pool community must face a boycott by misguided players, then so be it. “The nation has a vast pool of players to tap and nurture,” he said. He pointed to the Philippine Billiards Development Foundation (PBDF) as the key to ending once and for all the blackmail by irresponsible and greedy billiards managers.

PBDF Executive Director Jun Diokno disclosed some of the high profile names who have already enrolled in the program. Among them are: Marlon Manalo, winner of numerous international titles; Antonio Gabica, Asian Games gold medalist (formerly of Bugsy Promotions); Renemar David, Pool Showdown champion (formerly managed by BMPAP spokesman Edwin Reyes); and Mark Mendoza, Philippine junior champion (formerly of Negros Billiards). So far, over 50 players have already applied for inclusion in the program.

BSCP chairman and Raya President Yen Makabenta described as a kangaroo meeting the gathering of players touted by managers as a “players' revolt” against the BSCP and Raya. He cited players at the press conference who attested that they were just used by the managers for the rigged manifesto. No manifesto was signed. But he said: “Players are innocent in this conspiracy. We will not be drawn into a conflict with our players.”

Makabenta said the assault on the BSCP and Raya was “a naked and unprovoked attempt” to take over control of Philippine pool. He warned of sinister forces who were out to establish a pool team league, bring in illegal gambling into the sport, and who had no program to promote international events like the world pool championship in the country.

For his part, BSCP treasurer Sebastian Chua revealed to the assembled media that player manager Perry Mariano visited him several times to persuade him to join the managers' conspiracy, alleging funds misuse and other violations in BSCP. But Mariano could not substantiate his charges and just substituted one false claim after another..

Chua also said that players should have the right to leave managers who charge an exorbitant price for their so-called management: 40% of everything they earn. They even charge the bonuses given by the government, he said. He pledged unqualified support for the billiards foundation to help pool players.

Many players also spoke at the press conference to express their concern about the managers' agenda and their steadfast support for the BSCP and its partner organizations. Notable among them was Edgar Acaba, a veteran player who had headed a players association in the past and was an original incorporator of BSCP. “I am for the welfare of sport,” he said. “I am for BSCP.”

File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe