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Wack Wack probes Mar ‘outburst’

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MANILA, Philippines - Did the secretary of the interior and local government go out of bounds?

The Wack Wack Golf and Country Club is investigating a complaint that Manuel Roxas II berated and cussed employees of the club for demanding that he pay the green fee for a golf pro he had invited to give golf lessons to his guest.

Roxas is a registered member of the exclusive club, where the green fee is P5,100 per head.

A report submitted to the Wack Wack administration showed the incident took place on April 6, a Sunday, at around noon at the club’s registration office.

Before the incident, Roxas informed the staff that his guest would be getting golf lessons from golf pro Rey Pagunsan.

The incident was first reported by GMA 7 broadcaster Arnold Clavio in his Abante column. The names of the staff involved were not mentioned.

On being told that he needed to pay the green fee of P5,100 for Pagunsan, Roxas reportedly lost his cool and shouted at the staff member.

“T___ina! Kailan pa nagkaroon ng ganyang rules (Since when did the club have these rules)?” Roxas reportedly told off another staff.

When one of the club’s staff insisted that Roxas pay the fee, the DILG chief reportedly shot back: “T____ ina! Walang presi-presidente sa akin!” It was not clear why he made reference to a president or whether he was referring to club president Philip Ella Juico.

The club personnel then told Roxas that they would just call the general manager to help clear things up. But again Roxas allegedly shouted, “T____ ina! Walang bawal-bawal sa akin!”(Nothing is prohibited with me.)

A witness recalled that the commotion attracted the attention of Roxas’ wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez, who asked if there was a problem. Roxas answered, “Walang bawal, bawal sa akin!” Roxas eventually left the registration office.

When he was about to tee off, another course employee reportedly asked for the receipt of the green fee but Roxas snarled at him.

Club membership chairman Frederico “Butch” Campos Jr. declined to comment when reached by The STAR and referred the issue to Juico, who said they would investigate the incident after the Holy Week break.

“We will look into it. We will study Sec. Mar Roxas’ letter and invite those involved in the incident. But since it’s Holy Week, we can only act on this next week and hopefully come up with a decision,” said Juico, who received the report upon his arrival Tuesday after covering the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley rematch for Solar Sports.

Roxas earlier sent a letter to club members giving his side.

Pagunsan, for his part, denied that Roxas had badmouthed any of the club’s personnel. “Basta sinabi lang niya na babayaran na lang niya yung green fee ko pagkatapos ng laro namin (He just told them that he would pay my green fee after our game),”

“Pero noong pa tee-off na kami sa backnine ay sinabihan na naman kami na dapat daw bayaran yung green fee ko (But when we were teeing off in the backnine, we were told again to pay the green fee),” he said.

“Kung anu-ano na ngang balita ang lumabas pero kahit saan, kahit kanino pwede akong magsalita sa kung ano talaga ang nangyari (A lot of stories were making the rounds but I can tell what really happened, to everyone and anywhere),” said Pagunsan.

 

Members behaving badly

The rich are different from you and me, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said. So does that mean the rich – and the powerful – follow a different set of rules?

Wack Wack Golf & Country Club in Mandaluyong City, undoubtedly an enclave of the rich where a proprietary share goes for around P16 million, is currently embroiled in a controversy involving a rich and powerful government official and the rules of the club regarding guests playing on its fabled courses.

Non-members are charged P5,000 green fee plus P100 for the caddie retirement fund for the club’s East Course on weekends. The fee is levied on any non-member who goes out on the course, whether or not he/she actually plays. This applies to teaching pros and the occasional – though discouraged – bodyguard, as was the case recently of a diplomat who apparently got special permission to bring his bodyguard with him due to security threats.

The exemption to this payment rule is for nurses or caregivers of elderly members or those with serious medical conditions who still want their dose of swings and putts.

Wack Wack has had its share of controversy and scandal over its 84-year history. Most famous of these is perhaps the “back off!” and “may P200 ka dyan” incidents of 2008 that supposedly took place at the club involving major players – some of them high government officials – in the scuttled national broadband network deal between the government and Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

That particular scandal hit the headlines and merited a full-blown Senate inquiry.

Members behaving badly are, unfortunately, not all that uncommon. A lawyer-member was suspended for a year for assaulting a waiter. Another was kicked out of the club for repeated incidents of temper outbursts and violence – including dousing a hapless server with a glass of water – and delinquency in settling his account.

A nominee – one endorsed to use the share of another – was not renewed when his endorsement expired for attempted assault on a fellow member in an altercation in the club’s parking lot. The former apparently resented the latter’s sounding his car horn at him.

Another case currently pending before the club’s membership committee which hears disciplinary cases involves a new member who assaulted a caddie, because his brother – who is the member’s regular caddie – allegedly stole money from the member.

The next meeting of the seven-member committee, scheduled for early next month. – Dante Navarro, Charmie Joy Pagulong, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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