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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

RIP: Sir Robert Valdez

Muay thai chief shot dead inside gym
By Marc Anthony Reyes, Beverly T. Natividad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:43:00 02/22/2009

Muay thai chief Robert Valdez was shot dead reportedly by one of his former wards Saturday right inside the national training center in PhilSports in Pasig.

Police have fingered Sonny Sumale, a former member of the national team and a muay thai standout of the Philippine army, as the suspect.

Witnesses, including someone close to Valdez, said another former coach and national player was responsible for the shooting. The witnesses said the former coach shot Valdez while two national athletes were warming up inside the training facility and while the rest of the national squad were attending a seminar.

The suspect reportedly fled the scene after the shooting, bringing with him the weapon, whose caliber the police have not yet identified.

Philippine Sports Commission chair Harry Angping, who immediately went to the Medical City where Valdez was rushed, described the incident as “unfortunate.”

He said he hoped the athletes’ morale won’t get affected by tragedy considering that the country is considered a powerhouse in muay thai, where it emerged overall champion in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games and runner-up in the 2007 edition.

“Whatever it is, we accept responsibility with what happened because it occurred in our premises,” said the PSC chief who immediately asked for a report from his security forces detailed at the venue.

PO2 Higino Dancel said the police are still trying to find the motive for the shooting while Angping was at a loss as to how the suspect managed to slip a gun inside the training center when he had previously issued an order that all firearms be deposited at the PhilSports complex’s entry points.

More than half of 1,000-plus members of the national training pool are enlisted men in the armed forces, and may have access to firearms.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Peping Cojuangco declined to comment until a thorough report was made.

Valdez was in the thick of preparation for the Battle of the Best, a semi-pro event among members of the national team, training pool and the champions who emerged from the division championships of the Philippines Olympic Festival.

Valdez was credited for putting the sport into the mainstream in the ’80s after having studied it in Thailand. He served as fight coach to celebrities Robin Padilla, Judy Ann Santos, Dingdong Dantes and Angel Locsin.

SAYS PSC CHIEF: Valdez killing shows lack of discipline
By June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:14:00 02/23/2009

Aside from security concerns, the Philippine Sports Commission wants to formulate a set of ironclad rules on discipline among national sports associations in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of muay thai chief Robert Valdez.

PSC chair Harry Angping said the PSC will schedule a dialogue with the Philippine Olympic Committee and its member NSAs on the “house-cleaning” that should be done within the ranks of the Olympic family.

“Stricter guidelines on discipline and respect for authority should be instilled on the coaches, athletes and even leaders of the NSAs,” said Angping.

Police reports show that Valdez, president of the Muay Association of the Philippines, was gunned down reportedly by former muay coach and Southeast Asian Games medalist Sonny Sumales inside his office at the PhilSports compound in Pasig City on Saturday.
Witnesses said Valdez and Sumales were heard arguing when three gunshots rang out of the complex.

A member of the Philippine Army, Sumales reportedly got irked when Valdez chided him to stop harassing a female member of the RP team, Kristina Custodio.

The 40-year-old Valdez was immediately brought to Medical City where he died from shots to his body, lower armpit and left shoulder.

“It should serve as a wakeup call,” said Angping. “It’s not yet too late, we still have time to instill discipline among all NSA leaders and their coaches and athletes.”

“That kind of tragedy will never happen again if coaches and athletes are more disciplined,” said Angping, who was among the first to rush to the scene of the crime.

As an added precautionary measure, Angping said he would issue a memorandum forbidding the entry of firearms inside the PSC-owned compound and other PSC training facilities.

Muay thai prexy ‘killer’ falls
By: Gerry Ramos
February 23, 2009 07:06 PM Monday

THE suspected killer of Muay Association of the Philippines (MAP) president Robert Valdez was arrested yesterday morning, a few hours before the sports leader was laid to rest at the Blue Mosque in Maharlika Village, Taguig.

Former national athlete Sunny Sumales, an Army man, was nabbed in Sierra Madre, Quezon by a Special Action Force of the Philippine Army during a special operation conducted before dawn yesterday. He is now under the custody of the Philippine Army and is expected to be turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) today, according to MAP secretary-general Red Dumuk.

Valdez was buried following an Islamic ritual 24 hours after he died. Under Islam tradition, Muslims should be laid to rest 24 hours after death.

“He underwent traditional (Islamic) course. He was bathed,” said Dumuk.

The MAP secretary-general was among those who attended the burial along with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Harry Angping and POC secretary-general Steve Hontiveros.

This developed as Angping said the gun ban he will implement in all PSC- supervised sports complexes should be employed as soon as possible.

“Shortly after our flag- raising today (Monday) at the Philsports Arena, I’ll already announce about the gun ban and then followed by a formal memo,” he said in a text message.

The suspect in the killing being an enlisted Army officer is allowed to carry firearms with him.“I think that practice should be stopped. Athletes should not be allowed to carry firearms with them while in training,” said the PSC chairman.

Probers are still determining the motive behind the killing of the man credited for spreading the popularity of muay in the country.

A possible angle was Valdez’s refusal to accept Sumales back into the national team after being booted out in 2007.

The other involved the suspect’s reported courting of a 15-year-old member of the national training pool of which the MAP president is not in favor.

Whatever the cause, Valdez’s family vowed to seek justice behind his death.