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    UST players got travel permits from NCRPO chief, says PNP report clearing Ayo

    Oct 1, 2020

    FORMER University of Santo Tomas coach Aldin Ayo secured all the necessary clearance from the government before the school's men's varsity team travelled to his home in Capuy, Sorsogon for its controversial bubble training.

    That was one of the claims made by Ayo in a sworn testimony later corroborated and cited by the Sorsogon PNP in clearing the beleaguered coach of any violation of the government's health protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    According to the Sorsogon PNP report, the players furnished "(1) consent letter/waivers from parents or legal guardians; (2) certification from the barangay/municipality that the player was not a person under monitoring or investigation; (3) rapid test and/or RT-PCR test certification that the player tested negative for SARS-Cov-2; and (4) travel authority issued by the NCR PNP Director," in this case NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas.

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    The travel authority, required during the pandemic, enabled the UST players to travel in batches from Manila to Sorsogon, which was then considered a low-risk area under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), for the team's planned "special personal development farm training program."

    Erstwhile team captain CJ Cansino and UAAP Season 82 MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo were the first to arrive on June 17, followed by Bismarck Lina and Bryan Santos two days later.

    Rhenz Abando, Joshua Fontanilla, and Bryan Samudio came in June 24, followed by Brent Paraiso, Ira Bataller, Paul Manalang, and Adama Faye on June 28. The last batch to arrive were Mark Nonoy, Deo Cuajao, Dave Ando, Migs Pangilinan, Jonathan Gesalem, and Aldave Canoy, who all arrived on July 29.

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      The PNP report also recognized that some members of the entourage were under the age of 21 - and therefore barred from leaving their homes under quarantine protocols. Lina, Nonoy and Cuajao are only 19 years old.

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      The Sorsogon City Police, however, said travel for the players was permitted because they were "engaged in the agricultural industry."

      The PNP report also cited JAO 2020-001, V. 5, which says: "Intrazonal movement within moderate risk or low risk areas, for the purpose of conducting HPA (Health-enhancing Physical Activities) shall be categorized as essential travel. On the other hand, interzonal movement for the purpose of conducting physical activities and sports may be permitted, subject to the approval of the local government unit and compliance with the applicable laws, guidelines, and protocols."

      According to the PNP report, Ayo also coordinated with the Sorsogon City Health Office on the arrival of the players for the "special personal development farm training program," which was considered a non-contact activity. The trip was certified by Acting Health Officer Rolando E. Dealca.

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      The City Government of Sorsogon also issued Certificates of Acceptance for the players dated June 26 and July 22, signed by Sorsogon City Mayor Ma. Ester Hamor.

      After arriving in Sorsogon, players subjected themselves to the mandatory 14-day home quarantine rule implemented in Sorsogon, staying in Ayo's residence before taking part in the farm training in his piggery and farm, all of which were certified by the barangay captain of Capuy, the report said.

      Ayo, according to the PNP report, mounted a training camp where the players engaged in 'farm work' by doing errands in Ayo's mahogany farm. In exchange, they were given an allowance, free meals and free lodging.

      While waiting for harvest time, the players "were allowed to make use of a basketball court which is enclosed inside the living room of [Ayo's] house where the players had individual training and not team practice," the report added.

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        Since the training was held in Ayo's home, the PNP report said the prohibition on non-professional contact events during the quarantine period no longer applied in this case.

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        "Further provisions under JAO ... explicitly states that: All individuals are highly encouraged to carry out physical activities and sports within their areas of domicile,"it said. "Hence the prohibition for non professional contact sports do not apply in a place of domicile."

        Under the circumstances cited, the Sorsogon PNP cleared Ayo of any wrongdoing in the bubble, which forced the coach to quit his UST job. The controversial mentor has also been suspended indefinitely by the UAAP Board of Trustees, based on an independent investigation conducted by UST.

        "Based on the evidence gathered, there was no UST sanctioned Team Basketball Training at the domicile of Mr. Aldin Ayo nor was there any prohibited basketball activities by his guests outside of his residence and within the jurisdiction of the Province of Sorsogon," the Sorsogon PNP report concluded.

        The PNP report was later certified by Sorsogon governor Chiz Escudero.

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