THE presence of an official Joint Administrative Order (JAO) gave the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) more teeth in going after violators of strict health protocols among pro sports.
GAB chairman Abraham ‘Baham’ Mitra reminded that a provision in the directive signed by his office together with the Department of Health and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), clearly stated that the agency has the right to sanction any teams or players found guilty of breaching safe protocols in their respective leagues.
The sanctions, of course, will always be done in coordination with top officials of the pro leagues that were already given the green light to resume workouts as in the case of basketball, football, and boxing under a General Community Quarantine (ECQ) status.
The National Capital Region (NCR) and other nearby provinces reverted back under a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) on August 4 owing to the major surge of COVID-19 cases, prompting a delay in the resumption of team workouts among professional players.
“Since meron nang JAO and sa amin na ibinigay yung load, kami na ang mag-i-impose ng sanctions,” said the 50-year-old Mitra in an engaging webcast edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
“In case something happens and there may be violations, we will be there.”
The GAB chairman also didn’t mince words against repeated violators, adding it has the right to cancel licenses of erring players or ballclubs.
“Kung talagang paulit-ulit ay puwede sigurong suspendihin at eventually, kung talagang matigas ang ulo, tanggalan ng professional license. We can do that dahil meron na ring JAO,” Mitra said in the weekly forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and powered by Smart, with Upstream Media as the official webcast partner.
Mitra commended both the PBA and PFL for policing their ranks and doing their job of having everybody on board in terms of understanding and abiding by the strict health guidelines as provided under JAO.
He added the cooperation of every player and teams are needed for the plan to work out especially once teams begin their respective training.
“So far yung mga leagues naman sila na mismo (ang kumikilos). Nau-unahan parati ang GAB, kasi kami we want to hear both sides, we want due process. And we’re doing several things. Unlike ang PBA, nakatutok lang sa PBA, ang PFLnakatutok lang sa PFL,” said the son of the late House Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr.
In the case of the Blackwater franchise, the GAB chairman said the team was only given a stern warning by his office since the violations committed were done when JAO was yet in effect.
Besides, the PBA already penalized the ballclub for P100,000.
“The PBA already sanctioned them and GAB doesn’t want to really step on institutions. We always believe in self-regulation. Nandiyan lang kami kung kailangan ninyo kami,” said Mitra, a former member of the House of Representatives and Palawan governor.
At the same time, he clarified that guidelines under JAO can be amended and revised from time to time, to adapt to the current situation of the country under the COVID-19 pandemic.