WORKING students and not student-athletes.
That was how Aldin Ayo presented the University of Santo Tomas players who he said voluntarily went to Capuy, Sorsogon for the Bicol bubble, as per the memorandum of the Sorsogon City Police that cleared the coach of any wrongdoing.
In a sworn statement, a copy of which was obtained by Spin.ph, Ayo said some of the parents of the players who were reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic wanted to leave their sons under the care of Ayo for the time being.
His heart 'moved' by the pleas, Ayo, according to the 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.
Those details were part of the memorandum released by the Sorsogon PNP clearing Ayo of any wrongdoing in the controversial Bicol bubble mounted by the UST Tigers which eventually led to his resignation - and eventual ban from the UAAP.
That memo clearing Ayo was also cleared by Sorsogon governor Chiz Escudero.
Attached with the memorandum was an eight-page report by the Sorsogon PNP that included details culled from Ayo's own sworn statement.
According to Ayo's testimony:
* The players who voluntarily went to Sorsogon are all of legal age.
* Before coming to Sorsogon, the players furnished their (1) consent letter/waivers; (2) certification from the barangay/municipality that the player is 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."
* Former UST Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA) director Fr. Jannel Abogado, OP gave his blessing for the bubble, on the condition that UST would not be liable for any untoward incident that may happen during the training camp.
According to the PNP report, pleas from the players' parents prompted the UST coach to mount the Sorsogon camp.
"That with the strict community quarantine imposed by the government in the months of March, April, and May, the effect on the ordinary laboring citizens of the country was devastating and he came to know that this was also felt by some if not most of the players and the assistant coaches of the UST Men's Basketball Team," the report read.
"They had players who have families that found it really hard to cope up with the crisis and there were some who become dependent on their school allowances because their parents were not having their usual earnings due to the strict restriction on work and mobility, they had a player who worked as a part-time construction worker just to make ends meet."
The report claimed a father of one player approached assistant coach Mcjour Luib back in May 30 and shared their plight, asking if "there was a way for [Ayo] take their son because they do not have much to feed their family as he was relieved from his work as a family driver."
"His heart was moved as a head coach, he is like a father to them. He is very much concerned with their safety, health, and overall well-being," the report added.
"Hence, he envisioned a training camp for individual players who would want to come to Sorsogon whereby he can engage them in farm work and training while still not enrolled yet for the next delayed school year and may extend as working student if classes are by online and not face-to-face."
Based on the PNP report, the camp was primarily an agricultural activity, with the players doing errands on Ayo's mahogany farm.
"Being engaged in agricultural industry, IATF resolutions allow travel for the players concerned. In his farm, they proceeded with farm engagement and training for which, he gave the players/trainees some allowances aside from their free boarding lodging as well as free meals," the report read.
"While not engaged in farm work and training and while waiting for the harvest time of palay at his riceland, 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 pointed out that 'agricultural activities' are allowed by the IATF in MGCQ areas like Sorsogon at that time.
"Pursuant to the above guidelines and orders, areas placed under MGCQ which are low risk are allowed to conduct the agricultural activity under Category 1 (industries) of the Implementing Rules of the Community Quarantine Guidelines with amendments as of June 25, 2020."
Given the above, the PNP cleared Ayo of any violation of health protocols during the UST bubble.
"[A]fter a careful evaluation and analysis of the pieces of evidence submitted, there was a clear exhibition of legitimate activities undertaken by former UST head coach Aldin Valladolid Ayo; that, the actions performed by former UST head coach Aldin V. Ayo is in accordance with the health protocol and guidelines as per the existing Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease; and based on the evidence gathered, there was no UST-sanctioned Team Basketball Training conducted at the domicile of Mr. Aldin V. Ayo nor was there any prohibited basketball activities conducted by his guests outside of his residence within the jurisdiction of the Province of Sorsogon."