DESPITE being identified with the Manny V. Pangilinan group, newly-appointed UAAP commissioner Andy Jao assured he will handle the basketball tournament of Season 77 with independence and impartiality.
Questions over Jao’s objectivity were raised the moment he was appointed on Friday as league commissioner by this year’s host University of the East owing to his reported position as consultant of Talk 'N Text - a PBA franchise owned by Pangilinan.
Of course, it’s no secret the business tycoon is also the major backer of the Ateneo men’s basketball team.
Jao, however, was quick to allay doubts over his neutrality, saying he will not risk destroying his name and his reputation in his second stint as UAAP basketball commissioner just to do specific camps a favor.
“I’m already over 60 years old. I’m a man of principle,” Jao stressed to Spin.ph hours after his appointment was made official by the league.
With regards to his link with the MVP group, Jao made it clear he holds no official capacity at Talk 'N Text.
“I’ve been asked a lot of times about that. First of all, I’m not officially in the Talk ‘N Text group. Hindi nga ako makapasok sa MOA (Mall of Asia) Arena without a ticket," he said.
"There was a time that eventually because I was able to do TV work, nasama ako sa listing ng Sports5. But I can't even go early to the games to join the team,” Jao said.
Incidentally, Jao, a La Salle alumnus, was UAAP commissioner in 2011 when Ateneo was league host.
Jao said he is also friends with Asia Brewery and University of the East owner Lucio Tan, San Miguel Corporation chairman and La Salle patron Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, as well as coaches and officials in the UAAP.
“Si Lucio Tan is my ninong in my wedding and I used to work for him and manage his team. Mr. Cojuangco is a very good friend of mine as well as my wife’s family. I think they know that I’m a man of principle and they are sportsmen,” said Jao, a La Salle alumnus.
“Almost all of the coaches are my good friends. I’ve worked with or they know me from the past. The only guy who I’m not very familiar with right now because he is a new coach is Bong Dela Cruz of UST.
“But before, si (former UST coach) Pido (Jarencio), nakasama ko na rin ‘yan, Kenneth Duremdes (new Adamson coach) during his time, I’ve called his games, and Derrick Pumaren (UE coach) I’ve worked with him before,” Jao said.
The new commissioner said he believes the people behind the UAAP will let him do his job, adding he doubts he was appointed to the position to "accommodate anybody."
“MVP is a sportsman and Boss Danding is always noted as a sportsman. I don’t think they will be calling me and telling me about things because they know that I’m not the person that you can call about that,” said Jao.
“I don’t think I was asked to do this to accommodate anybody. I’m going to be fair,” said Jao.
He added he gave no promises to UE as far as handling the basketball tournament – from the men’s, women’s, all the way to the juniors - is concerned, except to do a job that will make the league proud.
“The only thing I can promise UE is to make it a good season that will make them proud,” said Jao.