THE BATTLE BEGINS
By Manny Piñol
05 Sep 2005
In late December of 1997, a few days after Luisito Espinosa successfully defended his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title via a sensational 6th round knockout of Argentina's Carlos Rios in Koronadal, South Cotabato, a suit was filed against the fight promoters before a Manila City court.
The suit, filed by Luisito following the failure of the promoters to pay him his purse of $150,000 named then Governor Hilario de Pedro, promoter Rodolfo Nazario and matchmaker Lito Mondejar as respondents.
The legal action was made in an effort to force the promoters of the fight to pay Luisito's purse which they failed to deposit before the fight with the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), as provided for by the regulations of the government supervisory body for professional boxing.
Today, eight years later, the suit has remained unresolved in the court of Judge Rosario Cruz of the City of Manila not because the judge does not want to rule on the case but because of the legal maneuvers of the lawyers of the respondents.
Hermie Rivera, who later took over as Luisito's manager, said the latest move of the respondents' lawyers is to ask for the inhibition of the lady judge claiming that she is biased towards Espinosa.
I have learned in school and even in the realities of Philippine jurisprudence that the wheel of justice moves slow. But the real reason behind the slow movement of the wheel of justice is to make sure that the decision meted out is fair and just.
In Luisito's case, however, the wheel of justice moves so slow because of the willful effort by the respondents to delay the imposition of an obvious outcome of the case -- the payment of Espinosa's purse which today could be in the vicinity of P7 million, a fortune for a former champion who has been abandoned by his wife and many of his former supporters.
It pains me to write about this because the respondents are people I know very well. I consider Larry de Pedro, a former governor, and Lito Mondejar as very close friends. But fair is fair. Justice is for everybody.
The facts are clear.
Fact 1: Luisito Espinosa, then WBC featherweight champion, was asked to defend his title against Carlos Rios of Argentina in Koronadal, South Cotabato on December 6, 1997 for a contracted purse of $150,000.
Fact 2: The promoter on record was Rodolfo Nazario with Lito Mondejar as matchmaker and Governor De Pedro as supporting sponsor.
Fact 3: Espinosa was not paid his purse prior to the fight as required by the regulations of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Fact 4: Then GAB Chairman Dominador Cepeda interceded on behalf of the promoters and asked Espinosa to fight in spite of the failure to deposit the purse as required by GAB saying that then President Fidel V. Ramos was expected to witness the championship.
Fact 5: Espinosa fought Rios and won by knockout thus fulfilling his obligation in the contract.
Fact 6: It has been eight years since that fight but the promoters have not fulfilled their obligation to Espinosa.
De Pedro and Mondejar can easily claim that they were not a party to the contract but Nazario cannot deny his role as the promoter, thus he is legally bound to fulfill his commitment.
Excuses like the advertisers backed out at the last minute are not the concern of Espinosa. His role was to fight and fight he did.
It is unimaginable or even incredible that a case with facts this clear would drag on for eight years. This is the height of injustice inflicted on a former champion who brought so much honor and happy moments for the country.
Luisito deserves justice and I and a few friends are willing to support him, especially now that he needs it to redeem himself.
If justice has eluded Luisito for the last eight years, he is now assured that in this toughest fight of his life, he will not be alone inside the ring.
The Battle Begins and we will be there to lift up his spirit.
Text joke of the week: A sign in front of a mortuary says: "If you don't take care of yourself, we will take care of you."
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