MANILA, Philippines -- In the wake of the controversy surrounding the basketball team of the University of Santo Tomas, stakeholders of both sports and higher education in the country are looking to providing guidelines for collegiate leagues.
The move is meant to avoid a repeat of the so-called "Sorsogon bubble" issue, which saw the UST men's basketball team train in the province since June, in what may be a violation of quarantine protocols. The university conducted an internal investigation regarding the incident, which has resulted in the departure of several key players and the resignation of its coaching staff, including embattled head coach Aldin Ayo.
The members of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) group -- the Philippine Sports Commission, the Department of Health, and the Games and Amusements Board -- will submit its report on the issue to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has since been involved in the issue as well.
The CHED and the JAO group are now mulling guidelines that collegiate sports leagues can follow for a safe return to training.
"The PSC, the GAB and the DOH, together with CHED, we're actually looking into maybe, instead of restricting 'yung training ng mga collegiate athletes, maybe we could open this up and provide them with proper guidelines," National Training Director Marc Velasco said on "Power and Play" with former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala on Saturday.
Velasco represents the PSC in the JAO Group.
"We would rather them train in a well-monitored environment rather than magtatago sila, which is more dangerous," he explained. "So we are looking at that possibility."
Aside from UST, the National University was also tasked to report to the UAAP after allegations that its women's volleyball team conducted training sessions while stuck in their campus in Calamba, Laguna.
There were also allegations that other schools -- including De La Salle University and University of the Philippines -- broke quarantine protocols.
Velasco said that instead of having varsity teams risk violating rules by sneaking around, they might as well provide them with the proper protocols, such as those already being followed by professional leagues.
Only pro leagues such as the PBA, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, and the Philippines Football League have been given a go-signal to resume training sessions. The JAO mandates that non-professional sports be barred from practicing without a vaccine for COVID-19, or at least an established standard of care is put in place.
"For us naman, if the schools are willing to look at their own student-athletes and magmo-monitor na lang ang government bodies, I think that would be better and I think that would work for everybody else," said Velasco.
"'Yun ang direction namin moving forward. And I think it's better for us na nakikita natin nagte-training, or nagpa-practice sila na safely, rather than nagtatago nga, which would put more people at risk," he stressed.
The plan is already in motion as GAB Chairman Baham Mitra has invited the PBA, Chooks 3x3, and the PFL to present their protocols to representatives of the collegiate leagues in a meeting on Monday. CHED Chairman Popoy de Vera has made special mention of the 3x3 league as having the perfect blueprint for collegiate sports to follow.