RATHER than face the humiliation of being deported, Red Bull’s beleaguered players Mick Pennisi and Davonn Harp left the country on Saturday to return to Australia and the United States, respectively, and seek more pieces of evidence to bolster their Filipino citizenship. In separate press statements furnished sportswriters covering the Philippine Basketball Association on Sunday, Pennisi and Harp said they were leaving to gather supporting documents that would help them to return the country and continue their career in the league.
Both said they were departing “with heavy hearts.” They instructed their respective lawyers to continue their legal actions with Court of Appeals in securing a temporary restraining order to stop the Bureau of Immigration from deporting them.
“This entire episode has been traumatic for my family and I,” said Pennisi, a native of Brisbane, Australia, but who is married to a Filipina, Jennifer M. Lacap. They have two children “both Filipinos,” he said.
“I have lived in the Philippines as a law-abiding citizen for more than five years, religiously observing its laws and faithfully paying my taxes to the government,” Pennisi added.
“I do not know what else I must do to prove that I am Filipino through and through. My ancestry proves it and my documents prove it. There are far more people living in this country, and enjoying the benefits of citizenship who are without either of the two.”
Pennisi has instructed his lawyer, Alexander Lacson of Malcolm Law Offices, in seeking a TRO for the bureau’s deportation order on November 20.
Harp, 26, who has also two children with former wife Katrina Quejada also went back home to Columbus, Ohio—in what he described as “a quick trip” to gather more documents to prove his Filipino citizenship.
Harp also faces deportation on November 20 and has instructed legal counsel Ed Robles to also seek an injunction against the immigration bureau order with the Court of Appeals.
“I am saddened that I am being persecuted for wanting to be a Filipino,” Harp said. “Nevertheless, I shall continue to exhaust all possibilities to try to gather additional evidence of my Filipino lineage.”
“I am more Filipino than many natural-born Filipinos who would rather leave the country to become citizens of another country,” added Harp, who reportedly has a lovechild with the girlfriend of another PBA cager.
Both players are holders of a Philippine passports while Pennisi played for the national basketball team that finished fourth in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.
Harp became part of the national training pool for that squad but made a last-minute decision of quitting the team to attend his personal problems.