• Graham: The heart and soul of FESSAP

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    SUSAN PAPA

    SUSAN PAPA

    (Second part)
    My last article regarding Graham Lim resulted in me receiving a number of calls as well as comments via emails and private messages from people.

    I would like to continue my article on Graham and tackle some issues in the latter part of the series.

    Graham tasked the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) to select swimmers for the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 editions of the Summer Universiade.

    PSL has been conducting tryouts in close coordination with Graham and FESSAP President David Ong.

    The tryout for the 2017 Taiwan Universiade started on July 15, 2015 with the staging of the 79thPSL National Series at Diliman Preparatory School dubbed as the 7th Sen. Nikki Coseteng Top 16 Swimming Meet.

    Now, PSL is due to hold its 100th edition of the series on August 20.

    Graham and I both felt pressure, harassment and oppression when the University Athletic Association of the Philippines barred its athletes from participating in any FESSAP events.

    It was then that I asked my lawyer friend Ma. Luz Arzaga-Mendoza to aid Graham.

    I have to convince Graham that my lawyer friend is someone he can trust. At any rate, I cannot blame Graham for his fear of lawyers because so many have betrayed him before.

    Graham together with former athletics chief Go Teng Kok flew to Singapore in late 2012. Graham failed to come home because cases were filed against him.

    Before my lawyer friend came into the picture, this is what transpired.

    According to Graham, a complaint was filed against him in 2005, alleging that he is a Chinese national pretending to be a Filipino citizen. The Bureau of Immigration (BI) through its Board of Commissioners rendered judgment, declaring Graham a Taiwanese and ordered his deportation.

    A motion for reconsideration, subsequent appeal to the Office of the President was filed but to no avail.

    Appeals to the Court of Appeals and subsequently to the Supreme Court were also denied. The Court of Appeals, whose decision dated February 10, 2007 was affirmed by the Supreme Court, declaring Graham is not a Filipino citizen having been born to Chinese citizen parents and that he is an undesirable alien and must be deported.

    The Order of Deportation declared final, Graham was arrested and incarcerated on December 7, 2009 by virtue of a warrant for deportation and commitment order issued by the BI.

    Attempts to deport Graham to China were unsuccessful because according to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China’s, Graham was regarded as a Taiwanese and therefore cannot be deported to mainland China.

    Attempts to deport him to Taiwan were also unsuccessful because according to Taiwan, in a letter dated May 19, 2006, the issuance of a Taiwanese passport to Graham does not automatically made him a Taiwanese. Taiwan sent another letter dated December 14, 2009, declaring that Taiwan is not in a position to accept Graham on the ground that he is not a Taiwanese citizen.

    Because of the situation, lawyer Michael Mella, Graham’s legal counsel then, through motions filed before the BI, was able to declare Graham as STATELESS PERSON. This declaration is contained in an order dated September 22, 2010 issued by then Officer-in-Charge, Ronaldo Ledesma.

    Graham enjoyed the status of being a STATELESS PERSON for two years. He was able to secure employment and freedom to travel in and out of the country. This authority is by virtue of the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Person where the Philippines is a signatory.

    The problem arose when then Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima issued a directive dated December 3, 2012 ordering the BI to implement the deportation order of Graham and placing him in the BI’s blacklist. The previous declaration by the BI that Graham is a stateless person was also set aside.

    As Graham failed to come home, FESSAP experienced difficulty in managing events, which highly affected the PSL.

    Graham was forced to live in “exile” after he was declared an “undesirable Alien” by the DOJ.

    Those unfortunate events that transpired were allegedly the result of the pressure exerted by his powerful rivals—Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose Cojuangco, Jr. and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas head Manuel V. Pangilinan.

    Graham said that this must be exposed and I definitely do not care much if they still have the power to make my life miserable.

    Seeing Graham unable to return home, because he was declared an undesirable alien plus news going around then that he was involved in human smuggling, my work goes beyond being a mere president of the PSL.

    Graham contacted me to asked Senator Nikki Coseteng and lawyer Ma. Luz Arzaga-Mendoza to meet FESSAP President David Ong.

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