MANILA, Philippines -- The Batang Pilipino Basketball League (BPBL) has been asked to comply with the joint administrative order (JAO) that governs the conduct of physical activities and sports in the time of COVID-19, in light of their planned tournaments.
According to its Facebook page, the BPBL is "a nationwide grassroots initiative for engaging and mentoring Filipino kids" in basketball. It is open to natural-born Filipinos aged 18-years-old or younger. The league will feature tournaments all over the Philippines, with BPBL coordinators assigned to municipalities or barangays where they can form teams.
The league is planning four divisions: 18 under, 16 under, 14 under, and 12 under. They have indicated on their Facebook page that they will comply with the rules and guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force.
"Hindi po tayo mag-uumpisa ng liga ng walang pahintulot ng IATF o ng gobyerno," said Ron Camara, the commissioner of the league, in a message to interested participants.
On Sunday, the league released an initial list of coordinators who can be conducted by interested players. The list included former University of Santo Tomas coach Aldin Ayo, who was named coordinator for his hometown of Sorsogon.
But the budding league might be over before it can even begin. The Philippine Sports Commission, the Games and Amusements Board, and the Department of Health -- the signatories of the JAO -- have sent a reminder to the organizers of the BPBL that their endeavor is still not allowed under the terms of the order.
"In line with the JAO, and according to the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of the Community Quarantine… non-professional sporting events such as tournaments, competitive events, and athletic meets shall not be permitted," they pointed out.
The JAO only allows for professional events, and only in low-risk areas. This was how pro leagues such as the PBA, the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, and the Philippines Football League got the green light to hold competitions last year.
The JAO also maintains that "no live audience shall be permitted regardless of the risk severity until an effective vaccine and/or appropriate standard of care for COVID-19 cases is developed."
"Considering that an effective vaccine for COVID-19 has not yet been made available, it follows that the implementation of this joint administrative order shall remain in effect, until and unless amended or revoked," they said.
GAB chairman Baham Mitra stressed that it was best for stakeholders in sports to remain cautious.
"One sports incident will have an effect on all," he pointed out. "Our students are not allowed by parents to go to school, much more be allowed to play."
"Having a vaccine does not mean you can't be a carrier," he added.