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News  


Calling Dirty Harry


PhilBoxing.com




There is a reason why "Batman and Robin," "Spiderman," "The Equalizer" and other filmworks with a similar theme enjoy a huge following.

There is a reason why in many areas in rural Philippines decades ago, the "Sparrow Unit" which was a liquidation squad of the New People's Army (NPA) operated with impunity as they gunned down notorious criminals.

There is a reason why controversial leaders like Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who is openly linked to the Davao Death Squad which puts bullets in between the eyes of drug-pushers and criminals in Davao City continue to win elections in spite of the public rebuke by human rights groups.

The reason is very simple. People are tired of seeing injustices being perpetrated openly and criminals roaming around freely while the victims families cringe in fear.

Honestly, there are acts of injustice that would make you gnash your teeth and seethe in anger and wish that people like Duterte would grab the perpetrators by the collar and pump a .45 caliber slug in their foreheads.

Take the case of the injustice done on former world champion Luisito Espinosa.

Here is a story of a professional boxer, whose interests are supposed to be safeguarded and protected by his manager and the government agency that supervises professional sports in the Philippines but who, for 14 years now has failed to collect his $120,000 purse from a fight against Argentinian challenger Carlos Rios held in South Cotabato in December of 1997.

The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) could not help him because the chairman of the agency at the time of the fight, Dominador Cepeda, was a party to the act to convince Espinosa to go up the ring and fight Rios even without the prizemoney which, under the rules of the GAB, was supposed to be paid to the boxer before the bout.

The listed promoter of the fight, Rodolfo Nazario, husband of a former Supreme Court justice, did not take responsibility for the unpaid purse saying that his license was just used by the real people behind the boxing promotion which included then Governor Hilario de Pedro III.

Espinosa's manager at the time, Japanese boxing man Joe Koizumi who was always proud about his ability to speak English and Spanish, could not respond to questions why he allowed his boxer to fight without the prize money.

How did this happen?

I am a living witness to the negotiations and meetings that led to the staging of the first world boxing champion ever to be held in South Cotabato which was intended to highlight the progress of the province.

I was the Mayor of M'lang, North Cotabato, the mother province of South Cotabato, when Larry de Pedro had meetings with boxing and media people in the old Aloha Hotel on Roxas Blvd. to plan the big event. Almost all of them had no experience in the staging of a boxing event that was to be aired live via satellite from Koronadal, the capital town of the province.

As expected, what followed was a comedy of errors. Nobody thought of booking a satellite transmission time for the fight so it could be carried live by the national television carrier.

A back up plan was hatched. The fights would now be aired slightly delayed. It would be recorded and the video tapes would be transported from the fight venue to the Gen. Santos City airport where it would be flown to Cebu City and transmitted to Manila for airing.

The courier plane was engaged but nobody thought of coordinating with the Gen. Santos City airport so the aircraft could land at night and accomplish its mission.

In the end, the airing was done the following day. The only problem was on the very night of the fight, the results were flashed on national TV taking away whatever excitement there was. The advertisers, I was told, backed out and the show was a financial disaster.

Luisito simply had nothing to do with the promotions. His role was to prepare for the fight which he did. And he accomplished his task by knocking out the Argentinian.

Problem was there were no sufficient funds available up front to finance the program and everybody depended on the revenues from the television coverage to cover Luisito's purse. He was promised that his purse would be paid after the earnings were gathered. Since the coverage was a financial flop, the funds were never realized.

And so, poor Luisito went to court in Manila, his own territory at that, to seek justice by filing a case against De Pedro, Nazario, et al.

Did he get justice? No! Or more appropriately, Not Yet!

Why?

Well, people suspect that since the late Rod Nazario was married to a powerful figure in the judiciary, the Manila judge handling the case could not seem to make up his (or her) mind on whether to resolve the case or not. And this has been going on for over 10 years.

The biggest problem now is the fact that both Nazario and Cepeda are no longer around to appear in court.

The only remaining participant in that boxing fiasco is the former Governor Larry de Pedro. While everybody knows he was behind the staging of the fight, nobody knows the extent of his involvement, legally. I mean did he sign the fight contract? Did he sign the promissory note that assured Luisito that he would be paid provided he appeared in the ring with Rios?

Which leaves us with the questions: Who will pay Luisito Espinosa's purse? Who would be the recipient of the .45 caliber slug from the "Equalizer?"

I cannot call on my friend, Mayor Duterte to solve this problem simply because it is outside of his territory.

I could only think of Mayor Fred Lim of Manila, the city where Luisito first saw the light and which he calls home.

Mayor Lim's successor, (and later predecessor) former Mayor Lito Atienza, used to give out a cash incentive to Manny Pacquiao everytime he came home victorious and joined the mayor in a motorcade. Honestly, I could not understand why the Mayor of the City of Manila would gift a boxer from Gen. Santos City with a huge amount but fail miserably to give justice to a Manileno champion, Luisito Espinosa.

Mayor Lim could certainly come up with a better and faster solution to address this injustice against Luisito.

He would not be called "Dirty Harry" for nothing.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Manny Piñol.


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