'Bata' apologizes, clears air over viral incident

efren bata reyes
Photo by Ali Vicoy

Pool legend Efren "Bata" Reyes issued a public apology following his involvement on a viral incident which showed him playing billiards in San Pedro, Laguna amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reyes explained his side through a letter addressed to the Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra and Jun Bautista, chief of basketball division and other sports. Mitra tweeted the copy of a letter Tuesday, March 16.

Read: Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes allegedly arrested over pool game amid coronavirus pandemic

"I am deeply sorry for what happened, I don't have control over the situation and the people around the vicinity," read a portion of Reyes' letter. "I, myself, was well aware of the safety protocols so that I will not acquire this virus and I am hoping and praying for everyone's safety."

The pool Hall of Famer explained that the event on March 11 was running smoothly at first until residents near the open billiards hall knew that he was invited to play in an exhibition game. Reyes said spectators were not able to contain their excitement which resulted in failure to observe proper social distancing.

The multi-titled world champion furthered that the barangay captain was forced to call the police since the audience were not following the standard health protocols, such as wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Similar to Reyes' earlier explanation over radio DZBB, he said the spectators were just reprimanded and were allowed to return home shortly after. The confiscated billiards equipment were also returned to them.

"Calling the police was the only way of the barangay captain to make the watchers obey him. The police officer informed me beforehand to just follow them to the barangay hall, so that everybody will comply," said the 66-year-old Reyes. "That's why we went to the barangay hall with them."

Mitra, in an earlier report by the Manila Bulletin, said Reyes may still face possible sanctions upon further investigation of the incident.

Per protocols, Reyes, a senior citizen, is discouraged to go outside or must have limited public interaction unless for urgent matters such as essential needs and services. Huge social gatherings, especially without proper physical distancing, are prohibited as well.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had allowed non-contact sports such as golf, badminton, tennis, swimming, among others, in areas under General Community Quarantine provided that minimum public health standards are observed.