MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The players of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) franchises all tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said the players of San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, and Magnolia were tested as part of the company's efforts to test about 70,000 members of its workforce, including third-party providers, in preparation for the reopening of its facilities nationwide.
"We are happy to report that all of our basketball players tested negative from the virus," Ang said in a statement.
Ang decided to put up a PCR-testing facility and laboratory at the company premises to reduce the strain on government health facilities that are currently conducting and processing COVID-19 tests.
Ang also stressed that while sports -- particularly the PBA -- is an important fixture in the country, the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 should be carefully considered before making any decision to resume sporting events.
"We defer to the government's wisdom and decision on when team-based leagues like the PBA will return, especially if people's lives are at stake," said Ang. "While we all miss the PBA, we need to first create a safe environment to limit the spread of the virus."
He added that the PBA can be a part of the movement for recovery efforts, and one way to do it is to consistently test everyone involved in the league.
SMC will continuously monitor the health of its players and the rest of its employees, and Ang assures that existing health packages are more than sufficient to cover them and their families.
"Our players and employees have nothing to be worried about, as we have assured that they will continue to receive their salaries and health benefits," said Ang. "We have constantly reminded our players as well as other employees to strictly follow health protocols during this time."
Ang has assured these protocols will be enforced should training for its players resume in the coming months.
Currently, SMC has strictly implemented workplace safety measures like physical distancing, wearing protective equipment, frequent hand washing, and conducting temperature checks at its offices and facilities across the country.
Meanwhile, the players of the Manny V. Pangilinan franchises are also being tested for the novel coronavirus this week.
The Meralco Bolts got tested on Monday, while the NLEX Road Warriors will be tested on Thursday. TNT KaTropa's testing is scheduled for next week.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).