MANILA, Philippines -- The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is waiting for the results of University of Santo Tomas' (UST) internal investigation regarding its men's basketball team, before deciding if the school should be sanctioned.
UST created a committee to probe allegations that the Growling Tigers have been training in Sorsogon since June, in what may be a violation of government quarantine protocols. The committee is expected to present its findings to the university rector Thursday.
"Ang gustong makita ng kumisyon dito ay, kaninong desisyon ba ito? Kasi ang accountable officials, as far as CHED is concerned, ay 'yung mga namumuno ng pamantasan," CHED chairman Prospero De Vera III said in a press conference, Thursday.
"Kaya hintayin namin ang report ng UST, at titingnan namin sa imbestigasyon ng UST, sino ba ang nag-authorize nito? Ito ba ay sanctioned ng pamantasan? Ito ba ay ginawa ng walang pahintulot ng pamantasan?" he added.
"'Yan ang mga unang kailangang tingnan."
De Vera met with representatives of the UAAP, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on Wednesday to discuss the issue, which came to light amid the controversial exit of former UST captain CJ Cansino from the team.
The PSC, GAB, and DOH were the signatories of a joint administrative order that governs the conduct of sports and physical activities during the time of COVID-19. According to its guidelines, contact sports and activities for non-professional sports are not allowed, until an effective vaccine and established standard of care is in place for COVID-19 cases.
De Vera said this is in line with the advisories that CHED has been releasing since March.
"Kaya sumama na ang CHED doon sa imbestigasyon, dahil 'yung unang imbestigasyon ay 'yung athlete part. Ngayon, 'yung student part ay under ng kumisyon," he explained.
The group will meet again next Tuesday, with a member of UST's fact-finding committee expected to attend.
De Vera said CHED's next steps will depend on the results of the probe.
"Depende din kung saan ba ang pagkakamali. Kasi, kung ang pagkakamali ay sanctioned ng eskwelahan eh ang responsible official na pwedeng parusahan ng kumisyon ay 'yung mga namumuno ng eskwelahan," he said.
"Pero kung ang pagkakamali diyan ay internal doon sa eskwelahan, ang puwedeng mag-sanction na diyan ay 'yung eskwelahan mismo. So depende talaga sa kung ano ang totoong nangyari," he added.
"Hindi pa natin alam 'yan ngayon, kaya mahirap magsabi kung sino at anong sanction ang pwedeng ibigay."
UST head coach Aldin Ayo has not confirmed or denied the existence of the so-called "Sorsogon bubble," but he vowed to cooperate with the investigations.
On Wednesday, Cansino exposed details of their struggles in the "bubble." In a series of now-deleted tweets, the former captain showed messages that they sent to their parents in a group chat, where the UST players expressed concern about the quality of the food they were being served, as well as the lack of care that they were experiencing.
Sources previously told ABS-CBN News that Cansino spoke on behalf of the Growling Tigers and expressed their desire to go home. Shortly after, he was kicked off the team by Ayo, citing "defiance of authority."
Cansino has since transferred to the University of the Philippines.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).