In My Eyes
By Edward B. Antonio
In one of the regional trainings I attended, I came across an old acquaintance nursing an ill feeling towards an official whom he said inflicted on him a certain punishment without due process.
“I was into sports. In one of those provincial competitions, my athletes and I were assigned to be housed in a certain school, first-come, first-served basis. We were welcomed by a classroom teacher who offered her room. We fixed our things, excited of the 5-day affair that we would be in to.
We were sitting on the benches in front of our quarters when a sports official came. He said we needed to evacuate the area because the mess personnel would be the ones occupying the room. I felt it was unfair because we had already settled down. But because this official was quite belligerent, I instructed my athletes to pack their things, go out and look for another room to occupy. But just as we were starting to evacuate the area, Ma’am classroom teacher restrained us: “Please don’t transfer, sir, because the ruling here is first-come, first served basis.”
So, we returned our things and settled down once more.
Then, came again Mr. Sports Official, this time, quite raging. “Did I not tell you to evacuate the area?” and pointing at my athletes one by one, he barked: “You, you and you! I have not screened your papers yet but you are already very disobedient!”
I was taken aghast. My blood soared. In my fit of anger, I lifted a broken chair and smashed it on the wall saying that the games have not started and yet here we are being flushed out unjustly!
The official took this seriously. He reported this to his boss, the overall chief in-charge of the games, and, without summoning me to air my side, issued his verdict: I was banned from participating either as trainer or coach to my athletes in the 5-day game!”
“Where is due process here?” he asked.
“Why did you not go to the overall chief and explained your side,” I retorted.
“Because I was not summoned to explain.”
“Well, if I were you, I could have explained my side with the aid of the classroom teacher and your athletes,” I said.
Indeed, there was no due process in the way he was sacked. I presumed Mr. Sports Official was a close aide or a drinking buddy of his big boss that whatever he said was always true and the word due process was only a waste of time.
What is due process?
It’s a legal term, fellas. It was first used in the Bill of Rights of the United States in 1791 under the Fifth Amendment and subsequently adopted by other democratic nations including our country.
It states that no person “shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
Among the provisions are: no one may be prosecuted for a crime without first being indicted (formally accused) by a grand jury (court of law). A person cannot be forced to testify against himself or herself in any criminal case. This is the right against self-incrimination. Next, the due process clause bars the government from arbitrarily depriving anyone of life, liberty, or property and the government may not take anyone’s private property unless it is necessary for a public purpose and unless the government pays a fair price for it.
Due process requires an accused the right or freedom to be heard and that’s justice. Justice necessitates everyone to uphold the law and treat everyone equal regardless of position or status in life — whether you are a mere athlete, trainer, coach, sports official or overall chief.
If I were Mr. Sports official, I could have spoken with Mr. Coach, his athletes and Ma’am Classroom Teacher in a kind and cordial manner, if indeed, the room was the most appropriate place for the mess personnel. I could have exhausted all my power of diplomacy because “kind words can melt even the hardest heart.” I could have avoided uttering those unkind words that caused all those ill feelings.
If I were Mr. Coach, I could have counted 10 times before deciding to pick up the broken chair and smashing it through the wall because that act further enraged an already enraged Mr. Sports Official. I could have spoken, too, in kind manner so as not to strain relationships. There is nothing lost when one is humble and diplomatic. Pride is useless when one is raging.
If I were Ma’am Classroom Teacher, being the host, I could have talked to Mr. Official of the host ruling that it was a first come, first served basis. I could have offered or suggested a “better” mess personnel room.
If these were done, any further trouble could have been avoided.
As for Mr. Overall Chief, he could have summoned the other party and listened to his or their side. There are two sides of the coin and in the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship (which are the real objectives of that 5-day provincial meet), the case should have been settled in the spirit of due process.
Well, there are many “ifs” and “buts” in life, fellas.
Sometimes, people are that unfair. There are those who believe that the strongest are the fittest to survive and there are those people, like me, who believe that we can all survive if we help one another. We may incur losses but they are only stepping stones for us to win some other time.
But if things cannot be resolved immediately, let’s remember these two words, fellas: