RAPS FOR SCHOOL COACH

By Dale G. Rosal, Norman V. Mendoza |February 27,2015 - 02:01 AM

Words can hurt deeply, especially if they shame a boy in front of his schoolmates.

This scene was allegedly repeated over several years when an athletic coach of a private school in Mandaue City called a pupil “baboy” (pig) and “bayot” (gay), during basketball practice starting when the boy was in grade 4.

Five years later, the Mandaue City Prosecutor’s Office found cause to charge  the assistant coach of Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu  in court with two counts of child abuse.

Ias Thaddeus “Sai” Bacalso will have to face trial in a case of violation of Republic Act 7610 or the special protection law against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

Coach Bacalso denied the charge during investigation and said the accusation was “fabricated” to  kick him out of the school or the basketball team.

However, Deputy City Prosecutor Felixberto Geromo in a resolution issued this week said the  psychologist’s initial evaluation showed that the boy during their session “manifested significant depressive indicators”.

Taken together with the boy’s account of being cursed and humiliated in front of team mates when he was in grade 4, 5, 6 and going to high school, “we cannot just say that the trauma and depression he now experiences just came out of the blue”, said Geromo.

The prosecutor said he would leave it up to the court to weigh the evidence  in a full trial.

The student’s name is being withheld by CDN because he’s a minor and  confidentiality of the child is required under RA 7610.

When Cebu Daily News sought Coach Bacalso for comment, he maintained that he was innocent.

”Of course I’m nervous because I’ve never faced anything like this.  But I’m trying to look at it with a positive light.  If you haven’t done anything wrong, then there’s nothing to be afraid of.  The only thing I’m wary of is that I don’t have the finances to fight this case,” said Bacalso, who was represented by lawyer Bretch Daryl Largo.

Bacalso was charged with  two counts of Sec. 10 under “other acts of neglect, abuse, cruelty or exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development.”

The penalty , if he is found guilty, is imprisonment for a term of prision mayor or six years and one day to 12 years.

The boy, who is now 15 years old, said he was at the receiving end of verbal assaults by the coach during practices and games in the school gym  in Mandaue City, in Cebu City, Cordova town and Dumaguete city.

He said the coach never missed to call him names “Bayot ka” (You are gay), “Bogo ka”(You’re stupid) , “Walay utok”   (No brain) if the coach thought the student wasn’t playing well or made mistakes.

In March 2014,  when the boy suffered tendonits, Coach Bacalso allegedly told him “Wala ra na.  Bayot ka!” (That’s nothing, you are just being gay) so the student  endured the pain in his knees and continued to practice.

In another instance, the coach allegedly shouted a threat in Cebunao, saying “I will paint a ring on your head so that you can shoot that ball.”

His parents were surprised why the boy, who used to be a lively child and playing well in basketball, had turned withdrawn, couldn’t sleep at night and would shiver at the sight of a basketball, according to the prosecutor’s resolution dated  February 23.

After a heart-to-heart talk, the boy confided that the coach was picking on him for no clear reason.  He didn’t want his parents to watch his games, fearing they would witness his humiliation. That’s when they pulled him out of the team. The family retained Inocencio dela Cerna as their legal counsel to file a case.

The boy’s ordeal allegedly started in 2009 when he was in Grade 4 and joined the school’s basketball team.  The name-calling on through the years, he said.

Bacalso, who was the conditioning coach, let them perform basketball drills. He allegedly uttered profanities and expletives at the students and ordered the boy to remove his shirt when he could not do the drills out of exhaustion.  Bacalso would shout at him the word “Baboy” (pig) in front of the team.

The student also recalled instances when the team played in Dumaguete city  and the coach heckled him in front of the team which made the crowd laugh at him.

The prosecutor  said the coach’s denial is the weakest of all defenses because it can be easily said. With Correspondent Glendale Rosale

In resolving the case, the prosecutor focused only on incidents in Mandaue City within his jurisdiction.

He said a preliminary investigation is a summary proceeding to discover whether a person may reasonable be charged with a crime, and not a trial.

It’s up to the court to examine all the evidence more closely.

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