THE road is clear for the staging of the opening games of the PBA's 40th season at the newly opened Philippine Arena after the Iglesia Ni Cristo said it won't stand in the way of two pro teams carrying alcoholic brands playing in its wholly owned facilities in Bulacan.
The INC, which owns the state-of-the-art facility, has a strong stand against alcohol consumption, but a high-ranking official of the religious sect assured fans that popular teams Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer will not be barred from playing in what is reputedly the world’s biggest domed arena.
The religious group’s legal department headed by Atty. Glesie Dizon has confirmed the go signal of their leader and Executive Minister, Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo, to allow the two teams to see action in the playing venue.
“Kung maglalaro lang po sila, no problem naman po 'yun. Pero siyempre ang bawal dun, magbenta at magpasok (ng alcoholic drinks),” said Dizon. “Wala naman pong problema kung maglaro dun ang Ginebra at San Miguel, kasi mga teams naman talaga sila sa PBA po.”
INC spokesperson Edwil Zabala confirmed that drinking alcoholic drinks is against the INC doctrine.
“Oo, bawal na bawal talaga sa mga kapatid nating Iglesia ang uminom ng anumang uri ng alak,” said Zabala.
Dizon said the staging of the season opener of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league on October 19 at the Philippine Arena, which has a capacity of 55,000, has already been approved by their church leaders.
Led by commissioner Chito Salud, the PBA will have another ocular inspection of the facilities on Thursday to check the flooring and other important parts of the venue that will be integral to the staging of the league's games.
“We will personally visit the Philippine Arena on Thursday so we can check kung game-ready ang mga flooring nila at`yung ibang facilities. We hope to stage the season opener there,” said Salud.
“There’s no better way to inaugurate our 40th year than to have it at a venue the country is very proud of,” he added of the domed arena, which has almost three times the full capacity of Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Dizon pointed out that cockfighting and other forms of gambling events are against the doctrines of their church and definitely will not be allowed to be staged at the Arena.
Asked if boxing, a known brutal sport, will be allowed to be staged in the venue such as a Manny Pacquiao fight, Dizon had no ready answer.
“Ahh… Hindi pa po namin nailalapit (para ipagpaalam kay Bro. Eduard). Wala pa pong bilin tungkol duon,” Dizon replied.
“Hindi ko po alam kung ano ang sagot (sa tanong na pwede po bang payagan ang boxing). Ang Executive Minister po talaga namin ang magde-decide niyan,” she added.
Here's a podcast of interview with the INC officials: