Hour of reckoning as UAAP presents UST probe on 'Sorsogon bubble' to gov't panel

Aldin Ayo
UST Tigers coach Aldin Ayo (UAAP)

The hour of reckoning is upon the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.

The UAAP is expected to shed more light on the controversy involving the UST men's basketball team when it presents the school’s findings to officials of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) Group and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Tuesday.

Scheduled in the afternoon, the crucial meeting would be the turning point of this UST fiasco as it would also decide which agency would sanction the school after the “Sorsogon training bubble” of its men's basketball team coached by Aldin Ayo allegedly violated government health protocols in this time of pandemic.

Expected to be present in the meeting are UAAP Executive Director Atty Rebo Saguisag, UAAP Season 83 President Nonong Calanog of La Salle, Philippine Sports Commission’s National Training Director Marc Velasco, Games and Amusements Board Chairman Baham Mitra, CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III, and Department of Health Representative Rodley Carza.

The group also asked representatives from UST to attend but UAAP has yet to reply on who would be joining for the meeting.

While fans following the controversy await the verdict, GAB Chairman Baham Mitra said the meeting’s agenda is centralized on looking at UST’s internal probe findings first.

“Submission pa lang (of UST’s investigation),” Mitra said, adding that they will study these findings first before they discuss if there will be a separate meeting to tackle the sanctions.

The government panel, composed of officials from PSC, GAB and DOH tasked to oversee sports programs during the pandemic, allowed the school to conduct its own probe and then present it to UAAP. The league will then present it to the group.

The right agency to carry out the sanctions remains a question at the moment, as it would depend on UST’s fact-finding committee report.

 “Depende kasi kung saan ang pagkakamali (ng UST),” said De Vera in a previous broadcast interview.

“Kung ang pagkakamali ay sanction ng eskwelahan, ang responsible official na pwedeng parusahan ng Commission ay yung namumuno ng school. Pero kung ang may pagkakamali ay internal, ang pwedeng nang mag-sanction dyan ay school na mismo.”

“Depende kung ano ang totoong nangyari. Mahirap magsabi kung sino at ano ang sanction na pwedeng ibigay,” he said.

Mitra also said in previous interviews that UAAP should carry out the sanctions.

“We would want them (UAAP) to self-regulate, but according to them, these teams are not just participating in their own league. There may be practices in another league, but it is very clear that the JAO only allows the professional leagues and players to practice. Let’s see what’s going to happen,” he said.

UST submitted its findings to UAAP last Friday, where reports that the Board seemed divided on how to deal with the sanctions if needed.

READ: UST in hot water as CJ Cansino bares alleged group chat discussing Sorsogon ‘bubble’ life

Among those informally suggested were severe fines as well as suspension for an entire season or two.

The fiasco has already seen the departure of UST athletes CJ Cansino and Brent Paraiso, as well as the resignation of athletic director Fr Jannel Abogado OP.