Trigger warning: graphic mentions of physical, emotional abuse
The PBA's Paul Desiderio on Thursday denied claims made by his wife, former sports reporter Agatha Uvero, that he had physically and emotionally abused her, calling her social media confession "unfortunate and sad, and most of all, untrue".
Desiderio, who plays for Blackwater, said he "vehemently" denies Uvero's allegations, noting he has "never hurt a woman, especially not the mother of my child".
Uvero's statement when viral Wednesday, triggering outrage due to her descriptions of his supposed acts of abuse that she said included blackmailing, strangulation, punching, throwing and kicking.
"I owe it to myself and to women out there," she had said of her decision to come forward with her story, claiming she was being gaslighted by her former partner in ways that can be described as typical in most cases of domestic abuse.
"I also don’t have it in me anymore to keep quiet just because I know that so many people empower this person, and enable him to be the abuser he is,” she added.
Desiderio said he would "fully cooperate" with the Philippine Basketball Association as it seeks probe on the matter, noting that he is "confident" that he would be proven innocent in the end.
"I will also face any complaint against me in any forum, especially in relation to domestic abuse accusations. I also reserve the right to seek redress for these defamations against my name and person," he added.
During his time at the University of the Philippines, where he met then-courtside reporter Uvero, Desiderio rose to cult hero status as the team captain that led the UP Fighting Maroon into ending their 32-year finals drought.
He is currently on a break from the PBA due to an ACL injury, which struck him last May 31, a few days before his separation with Uvero was announced.
"I have worked hard for the little that I have achieved in my life, and I have always done it with dedication and honor. I will fight for the honor of my and my family’s name and reputation because that is all we have," Desiderio said.
Shortly after Uvero's claims went viral, advocates online pointed out the need to recognize that the PBA has a violence against women problem, as sports journalist Ceej Tantengco pointed out how since 2018, there has been at least one publicly documented case of domestic abuse by a PBA player a year.
"All players have continued to play in the league with negligible effects on their careers. The PBA has a VAW problem and we need to talk about it," her viral tweet said, triggering conversations online on how the male sports league has been perpetuating problematic practices that are considered harmful for women.