A member of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons legal team bucked claims that the UAAP Tournament Comissioner had “unlimited powers” to impose disciplinary measures, saying on Thursday that this was one of the issues it raised in the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) the school filed to appeal the three-game suspension imposed on Coach Bo Perasol following his ejection in the September 29 game between UP and Ateneo.

Lawyer Patricia Galang said that UP stressed in the MR that the arbitrary nature of the penalty imposed on Perasol highlights the fact that the decision “is a dubious exercise of questionable discretion.”

“Discretion should not be confused with unfettered power. The rules clearly state that it is the Commissioner’s responsibility to impose disciplinary measures on those who demonstrate unsportsmanlike conduct,” said Galang.

“Discretion should not be confused with unfettered power.”

“However, there should always be bases or standards for the punishment given, otherwise he can mete out whatever penalty he wants. So, for example, if the Commissioner thinks a player is displaying unsportsmanlike behavior, he can punish that player with push-ups? Because that is what the UAAP Executive Director is saying,” she added.

UAAP Executive Director Rebo Saguisag had earlier defended the three-game suspension handed out by Ilagan. Saguisag said that “according sa ating guidelines hindi nalilimitahan ang commissioner to impose disciplinary measures if warranted.”

Galang lamented that the tournament officials were reading “parts of the rules––the individual provisions––without considering the whole rulebook.”

“Tournament officials were reading “parts of the rules––the individual provisions––without considering the whole rulebook.”

Quoting sections of the MR, Galang explained that “basic in statutory construction is the maxim of in pari materia––the principle that provisions in all laws, rules, and regulations are never read in parts but harmonized and understood as a whole.”

“So, following this precept, Rule 9.2.3––which does not specify any penalty other than stating the responsibility of the tournament commissioner to impose disciplinary measures––is merely a declaration of the Commissioner’s duty to implement and impose the stated penalties in the same section,” said the lawyer.

“In this case, the stated and clear penalty is a one game suspension, as clearly stated in Rule 9.2.1. It goes against basic due process to impose random, undefined, and unlimited sanctions.”

Rule 9.2.1. states that a student-athlete coach, trainer, or team manager, team official, or any accompanying delegation member who is disqualified, thrown out of or ejected for unsportsmanlike behavior from the game by the concerned game official shall not be allowed to play in the immediately succeeding game – should said game be cancelled, the suspension will be served in the game that immediately follows.

Rule 9.2.3. of the rules, on the other hand, state that the Tournament Commissioner has the responsibility to impose disciplinary measures on any student-athlete, team official and/or any accompanying delegation member who violates the fundamental values of respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility.

“The Commissioner’s power is defined and limited by the tournament rules––they are not the Infinity Stones. He just can’t snap his fingers and decide to wipe out half of the second-round games of Coach Bo.”

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