GAB mulls holding dialogue with 'Bata' Reyes

Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra bared plans to talk to billiards legend  Efren "Bata" Reyes and call for further investigation after the latter was caught playing in San Pedro, Laguna as seen on viral videos making rounds online.

Mitra said Reyes may face possible sanctions over the incident as the multi-titled world champion was reportedly in action without a face mask while spectators were not practicing social distancing at a certain open billiards hall.

"We will find out first if he's guilty or not to get his side. 'Di naman pwedeng crucify kaagad, kailangan ma-imbestigahan (We will find out first if he's guilty or not to get his side. We cannot crucify him right away for that, we need further investigation)," Mitra told the Manila Bulletin in a phone call interview Monday, March 15.

"Only the police and law enforcement agencies can go after them (violators). Kami naman we will call him (Reyes), we will remind him, kapag nakita namin na may violation siya,  pwede namin siyang i-suspend, pwede namin tanggalin lisensya niya, pwede namin siya pagalitan, pwede namin siya i-sanction pero 'di namin siya pwede ipakulong kasi 'di naman kami pulis. (On our end, we will call and remind Reyes and if proven that he committed such violations, we may suspend, remove his license, reprimand, sanction him, but we cannot put him in jail because we're not the police).

Reyes, 66, earlier clarified that no arrest was made and that he only accompanied individuals called out by the police to the barangay hall for breach of health protocols.

In the viral clip, the police can be seen confiscating several billiards equipment and insisted that the games were held "without permit" while another video showed Reyes exchanging pockets with a certain player while spectators were tightly gathered on the sides.

Reyes explained that officials got furious after the audience ran away from them upon inspection of the crammed place.

The man known as "The Magician" also cleared up that he wasn't wearing a face mask in-game due to difficulty in breathing, but puts it back while resting.