Grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio is contemplating on suing officials of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) for his removal from the national team set to compete in two major international tournaments – the World Chess Olympiad in Russia from September 21 to October 3, and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China from November 12 to 26.
Antonio bared his plan and informed GMANews.TV via e-mail, saying the NCFP’s decision to take him out of the team was done without due process and left him with no other recourse but ask the court for intervention.
NCFP president Prospero Pichay has decided to drop the country’s number two player Antonio from the national roster after he failed to return from the US to compete in the 1st Florencio Campomanes Memorial Cup held at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Antonio was participating in the United States at a time the Campomanes Memorial Cup was held.
“I’m surprised at the complete turnaround on the stand of Mr. Pichay,” said Antonio, who explained that the NCFP has signed his letter asking financial support from the Philippine Sports Commission for his US trip.
But Pichay, in a separate interview, admitted to have signed the document, but insisted that part of their agreement is for Antonio to return and play in the Campomanes Cup.
The NCFP mandated national team members to participate in one of two major tournaments being hosted by the Philippines as part of their preparation for the Chess Olympiad, considered as the Olympics of chess, and the Asian Games.
Aside from the Campomanes Cup, the NCFP also staged the 6th Pichay Cup and the twin tournaments attracted top GMs from different countries. The hosting was approved by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
Still, Antonio insisted that the move was illegal since the NCFP failed to give him the opportunity to explain his side.
Antonio’s wife, Aileen, has visited Pichay in his office to make an appeal. The appeal was junked and Antonio’s place was occupied by International Master Richard Bitoon, who will be the alternate in the squad composed of GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Eugene Torre.
“The action of Mr. Pichay and Mr. (Willie) Abalos had besmirched my reputation as a national sports figure and had caused me extreme mental anguish and sleepless nights. They left me without a choice but to sue them in court, civilly and criminally,” Antonio added.
Antonio, who played for four Olympiads, is set to return from the US on September 11. – RCJ, GMANews.TV
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