Sorsogon ‘bubble’ on the ‘menu’ as PSC, DoH, GAB gather

THE UAAP will meet with the Philippine Sports Commission, the Games and Amusements Board and the Department of Health today to discuss the alleged University of Santo Tomas men's basketball team's training sessions that took place in coach Aldin Ayo's hometown in Sorsogon amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

UST is also expected to release its findings of its internal investigation which started on Monday, days after the controversy erupted.

Reacting to the issue of the so-called "Sorsogon Bubble", PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez on Monday reminded sports officials and athletes that safety should always be the utmost priority. 

“Without passing judgment, this situation brings to mind a silent but equally worth noting implication. Does winning always mean everything else takes second place? Are we so focused on winning that we are ready to compromise important matters like the safety of the youth we are supposed to guide?” said Ramirez.

“Is the athletic development and achievement, or team readiness more paramount that overstepping bounds, compromising one’s safety or putting your team credibility on the line takes a back seat?” he added.

Ayo found himself in hot water for allegedly conducting workouts in Sorsogon, which is a violation of strict quarantine protocols.

Training for non-professional teams under any of the four variations of quarantine in the country has been strictly prohibited by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) as recommended by PSC, GAB and DOH.

The only available exemptions by the IATF in its Joint Administrative Order issued last month are professional basketball and football, which are allowed to resume training - but only in small groups - under approved health protocols.

The issue surfaced following the departure of UST skipper CJ Cansino, who committed to play for University of the Philippines a day after the news of his removal broke out late Thursday.

Ramirez said that the PSC has given UAAP a chance to clarify the issue internally.

“I believe this sets the tone for all other teams to follow. Safety is priority. Your life, dear athletes, is more important than any medal could ever equal,” said Ramirez.

"The government may not be able to monitor all activities, violations or actions, but as citizens we are all equally responsible for what we do and what we ask others to do for a cause or intention. Let us all care for one another in whatever way we can. If not as citizens, let us do it as brothers and sisters to one another," he added.