MPBL can take over erring franchises, says commissioner

By: Cedelf Tupas - Philippine Daily Inquirer | October 07,2019 - 07:17 AM

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League has started to feel some of the pains that come along with a league in infancy.

Just recently, reports cropped up of a power tussle at the penthouse, with the offices of the commissioner and the external auditor on opposite corners. Unpaid wages of daily earners and switching of hires were reported. But the bigger problem confronting the league is the surfacing discontent among players not getting their salaries.

Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said he is ironing out the issues but the former PBA MVP turned league executive said their hands are tied when players and teams don’t submit Uniform Players’ Contracts (UPC).

“The UPC is one of the measures we’ve put in to make sure both teams and players are protected, but we’re still having difficulty to have all the teams comply,” said Duremdes.

Compelling teams to submit UPCs, however, may be tricky. Duremdes stressed that the MPBL is still an amateur league despite players drawing salaries from the teams they play for. And until the league clarifies its status with its players, the latter will always consider themselves pay-for-play cagers and will continue to demand being paid on time.

“We encourage players to report to us any issues especially when it comes to salaries. Oftentimes, however, the complaints come too late.

“Sen. (Manny) Pacquiao is always ready to help with these issues. The MPBL can revoke the franchise and take over, but it has to exhaust all avenues first before going that route. ”

In fact, Pacquiao met with Bicol team officials late Friday to help resolve its internal issues and make sure that the players get their due. Duremdes said they’ve resolved several similar issues in the past.

Bataan, for one, was already warned of a previous incident involving its franchise operator, but it decided to push through with its partnership this season.

Following complaints of unpaid salaries, the Risers now have its franchise owner, Camaya Coast, operating the team.

Telecommunications executive Chaye Cabal-Revilla, who owns the Bacoor franchise with husband, Rep. Strike Revilla, said they understand the birth pains that the league is going through.

“I mean nothing comes easy for everything and there will always be challenges, but we’re still here,” said Revilla, whose team is running second in the South division with a 14-4 record. “At the end of the day, we’re actually getting bigger and it is successful in its own right.”

Revilla, however, is pushing for a more stringent process before securing entry to the MPBL, something that several team executives are eyeing.

“If there are issues (like that of Bataan and Bicol), the whole league is affected so I think it’s also incumbent upon us team owners and the league to do our part in making sure that personalities who join are people with integrity because the purpose of this league is to help players,” she said.

Jai Reyes has been one of the vocal players who spoke up against not receiving his rightful pay. He has been acquired by expansion team Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, where he also serves as head of basketball operations and is hopeful that their experience at Bataan will be the last for fellow players in the league.

“The growth has been great, but they have to control it in a way that it also becomes sustainable,” said Reyes. 

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TAGS: franchise, MPBL, problems, salary, take over, unpaid, wages

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