Boxers go AWOl, may be in trouble with immigrations

by Jaime K. Pimentel

Three Filipino boxers, here on temporary sports visas, were reported missing or absent without leave (AWOL) from their quarters in Sydney’s southwestern suburb of Liverpool this week.

Junior-lightweight Walrito Paderna, welterweight Jason Oyao, and junior-welterweight Arnel Balicuatro are now being sought by Green Valley police and Australian immigration authorities alerted by their manager Dido Bohol, of Bohol Boxing Stable where the boxers reside with seven others.

The Philippine Consulate General in Sydney and the Philippine Embassy in Canberra will also be advised of this development, Bohol said. Oyao went missing on December 2, 2007, Balicuatro on January 6, 2008, and Paderna on February 12. They are on six-months renewable visas.

“I am worried for them because they may be breaching a contract they signed with conditions of their stay in Australia” Bohol said. “A breach may result in their immediate deportation.”

If the three boxers decided not to return to their base and forced Australian immigration authorities to seek and deport them, it may also put in jeopardy opportunities for other Filipino boxers in the Philippines to come to Australia to ply their trade.

“It would give Bohol Boxing Stable a bad name in the eyes of Australian Embassy officials in Manila,” Bohol said. “I am hoping that Paderna, Oyao and Balicuatro decide to return and honour their contracts, and to eventually return to the Philippines.”

“For the sake of our reputations as Filipinos, and to help facilitate travel of other Filipino boxers to Australia to campaign and earn a living, I plead with these three to make things right”.