SC orders disbarment of PBA commissioner + A Few Thoughts

I am reprinting in full the article re Noli Eala’s disbarment, along with an opinion at the bottom.

SC orders disbarment of PBA commissioner – By Mike Frialde
Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the disbarment of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner and sportscaster Emmanuel “Noli” Eala for gross immorality after he was found to have carried an adulterous relationship with a married woman.

In an 18-page per curiam decision, the Court annulled and set aside Resolution XVII-2006-06 passed on Jan. 28, 2006 by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) dismissing the disbarment case against Eala for lack of merit, and instead disbarred him for gross immoral conduct, violation of his oath of office, and in violation of Canons 1 and 7 of Rule 1.01 (A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct) of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The Court found out that Eala, a married man, carried an extra-marital affair with Irene Moje, a married woman, prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage was null and void.
He “showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law” and “betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer,” reads part of the decision.

In ordering Eala’s disbarment, the Court acted on the petition filed by Joselano Guevarra on March 4, 2002 before the IBP Committee on Bar Discipline against the PBA commissioner for “grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer’s oath.”

In his complaint, Guevarra said he first met Eala in January 2000 when his then fiancée Irene introduced the respondent (Eala) to him as her friend. Guevarra learned that Eala was married to Marianne Tantoco with whom he had three children. After his marriage to Irene on Oct. 7, 2000, Joselano noticed that from January to March 2001, Irene had been receiving cellphone calls as well as messages from Eala, some of which read “I love you,” “I miss you,” or “Meet you at Megamall.” Joselano also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work.

When he asked where she went, Irene would usually reply having slept at her parents’ house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work. In February or March 2001, Joselano saw Irene and Eala together on two occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them. Irene abandoned their conjugal house after that incident. On April 22, 2001, Joselano gatecrashed Irene’s birthday celebration and saw her and Eala celebrating with her family and friends. After that incident, Irene took all her personal belongings, pieces of furniture and her share of household appliances from their conjugal house.

Joselano later found in the master’s bedroom of their conjugal house, a folded social card bearing the words “I Love You” on its face. When he unfolded the card, he found a handwritten letter dated Oct. 7, 2000, the day he married Irene. In the letter, which was addressed to Irene, “Noli”, who signed the letter, expressed his “eternal love” for her even if she is about to be married.

“I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done everything humanly possible to love you. And today, as you make your vows… I will make my own to YOU!” read the letter in part. Joselano reportedly saw Eala and Irene’s car constantly parked at 71-B 11th Street, New Manila. He later learned that it was Irene’s house.
Joselano also learned later that Irene was pregnant.

In his answer, Eala admitted having sent the “I Love You” card but denied flaunting an adulterous relationship with Irene. The Court added that Eala also never denied being the father of Irene’s baby girl who was born on Feb. 14, 2002.

I don’t think I have to say how terrible this development is in the light of the PBA’s dimming popularity and already overwhelming challenges. Not only does the league have to deal with dwindling gate receipts and uninteresting games, it now also has a commissioner who’s lost his professional stripes and whose conduct is far from what the league needs. Not to mention the fact that adultery is a criminal offense which carries strict penalties – which might even be made heavier by the court considering the stature of the person involved.

It is absolutely astounding to me, at this very moment, how low the PBA’s depths have reached. Noli Eala (you cannot call him Attorney anymore, remember) could very well have resigned his position when he was first dealing with the case. Instead he has hung on and now, the PBA is being lead by a disbarred professional facing criminal charges. You cannot manufacture a more painful and disappointing turn of events if you hired writers of cheap dramas on television.

How this will turn out in the following weeks is obvious. He will have to resign his PBA post, and someone will have to takeover. Critics of the league will demolish him, and the league, especially those who enjoy criticizing the Philippine team. Make no mistake about it, I truly believe that the league, its players, the teams, etc., will be facing the worst ever times of its life. In the NBA, a mere referee has turned the team’s high flying ways around via a scandal. Over here, none other than the PBA’s head honcho himself is getting the once proud league mired into mud it doesn’t deserve and could very well have been avoided.

For me, the PBA teams must circle its wagons and hunker down for a beating. It’s gonna come and it’s gonna be bad.