GAB: the rules governing professional sports during a pandemic are “useless”

With its authority as a government agency regulating professional sports apparently flouted, the Game and Entertainment Council is considering withdrawing from the group enforcing the government’s joint administrative order to oversee all sporting activities in the country during the COVID pandemic. -19.

The sentiments of the ATM board were contained in a draft letter dated October 20 and addressed to the leaders of the Interagency Working Group for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases composed of Secretary of Health Francisco Duque, Secretary Karlo Nograles and by Secretary Carlito Galvez, Chief Implementation Officer of the National COVID-19 Task Force.

ABS-CBN News Online was able to obtain a copy of the unsigned draft letter.

Mitra expressed his displeasure with the way the ATM was apparently bypassed during the agency’s monthly online conference on Friday.

“We are in fact inclined to come out of the joint administrative decree with the PSC and the Ministry of Health because I think everything should start again. They (the IATF) asked us to implement a no-hearing policy and a 14-day quarantine (for professional leagues and athletes), ”he said.

The JAO was the document establishing the health and safety rules and protocols that would enable professional leagues and their respective players such as the PBA, PFL and PVL to compete and national athletes competing in competitions in the stranger to resume actual training.

It was jointly signed last year by the Ministry of Health, the Philippine Sports Commission and the GAB so that the functions of the two agencies do not conflict, although some parts have been changed and updated. depending on the current conditions of the pandemic.

“But I understand that they allowed some (leagues) to continue. Parang useless’ yong JAO. Sumusunod kami sa kanila (IATF) kaya lang parang hindi rin nasusunod (The JAO seems to be unnecessary). We follow them (the IATF) but they are not followed ”, declared the president of the GAB without naming the leagues during the press briefing.

The draft letter, however, was explicit about the leagues involved: the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League owned by Senator Manny Pacquiao and the newly formed Filbasket headed by former college star Ateneo Jai Reyes and ex- Sta. Lucia Realty’s team manager, Buddy Encarnado.

Filbasket announced on his Facebook page that he will be holding the league opener on October 28 at the Subic Bay Gymnasium inside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Freeport Zone in Olongapo City, Zambales.

MPBL and Filbasket claim to be “amateur” leagues, although the participants – coaches, players and other league staff – are paid for their services, which, under the joint circular issued by the GAB and the Philippine Sports Commission, classifies them as pros.

“It seems that the JAO is not feasible and no longer works as 2 basketball leagues, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) and Filbasket, have also been approved by the honorable body (IATF) despite their activities commercial and commercial. intention ”, indicates the draft letter.

“Obviously, according to the joint resolution of the GAB and the PSC, MPBL and Filbasket are neither amateur leagues nor intended solely for the development of the national training pool. Therefore, these are professional leagues and must be under the regulation and supervision of the ATM.

“They must embrace the authority of the ATM and comply with the guidelines of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) of the PSC, GAB and DOH,” he added, citing Presidential Decree No. 871.

Under the law issued by the late President Ferdinand Marcos: “It is illegal for any person, entity or association to organize professional basketball matches or other professional games and competitions without a permit and license duly issued by the Advice “.

“Therefore, allowing sports leagues like MPBL and Filbasket to host their basketball tournaments during this unprecedented time without a National Government Agency (NGA) overseeing said events will open the floodgates for all amateur leagues.” non-professional to the detriment of their health and safety. », Underlined the GAB.

“As we applaud their lofty vision of providing livelihoods and opportunities to earn for those affected by the pandemic, we must emphasize that the mandate of the ATM is to maintain integrity and provide sufficient protection for all. professional athletes and stakeholders involved in the conduct and operation of basketball.

Head of Legal Division GAB Atty. Omar Benitez, who was also present at the press conference, underlined two aspects of the question “one being the professional aspect (of the leagues) and the health and safety aspect of the participants involved”.

Citing PD 871, Dioscoro Bautista, the head of the professional sports division of the GAB, wrote to Reyes on October 17 refuting the “amateur” status of Filbasket on the basis of the joint resolution of the PSC and the GAB, and asking the league to obtain the necessary documents and licenses to run like a professional league.

Benitez hoped the issues with MPBL and Filbasket could still be resolved, but also warned that he was also allowed to issue a ‘cease and desist order’ to both leagues unless they comply. to the appropriate requirements.

Mitra also feared that problems could arise if these developments were to thrive without proper ATM regulation.

“Ingat lang tayo kasi hindi lahat ng LGU (local government units) alam ‘yong na tama health and safety protocols. Problem in this case there are every day. (Let’s be careful because not all LGUS are aware of health and safety protocols. The problem could lead to other people), ”Mitra warned.

He cited the example of unregulated cockpits in Davao which has resulted in a spike in COVID-19 cases in the region.

“We must not let our guard down. The ATM is always there to try to help as much as possible. Our mandate is always to take care of our professional athletes, ”said the president of the GAB.


Meanwhile, Reyes said that “Filbasket’s inaugural bubble tournament is amateurish in nature.”

This was contained in a letter from Reyes, a former college player and professional Ateneo player, dated October 19, to Bautista.

With the approval of the ATM board of directors, Bautista wrote to Reyes on October 17, claiming that Filbasket was an ongoing professional league based on joint resolution 2020-01 of the GAB and the Philippine Sports Commission.

The resolution provides the guidelines for the “definition of professional athletes and professional sports,” Bautista wrote to the head of Filbasket, who said those who are given a count for playing are classified as pros.

“Filbasket and his teams are only providing nominal amounts or allowances, as that already means a lot in the basketball industry given our nearly two-year absence from basketball (due to the COVID-pandemic). 19), ”said in the response letter, addressing the ATM official as“ Dear Dioscoro ”.

On the issue of profit-sharing between clubs, Reyes said that “the whole context of the statements relates to Filbasket’s plans for the future and does not refer to this inaugural tournament”.

Regarding tournament sponsors, he said “we only get in-kind sponsors or x-deals needed for the tournament. If there is money at stake, that only covers the costs of holding the tournament given the need for a bubble. “

Reyes, however, said that as the Filbasket grew, “we are delighted to sign up and work with the GAB to ensure the integrity of the game, just like the recently transformed professional leagues in (sic) the VisMin Cup and the NBL “.

About Marco C. Nichols

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