BILLIARDS legend Efren “Bata” Reyes said that he was not arrested on Saturday morning even if he was caught playing pool in San Pedro, Laguna in breach of the government's health protocols.
In an interview with DZBB on Monday, March 15, Reyes, 66, said he only accompanied the local billiard players who were invited by local officials to the barangay hall for questioning.
“Sabi sa amin ganun, dadalhin lang namin kayo sa barangay para pangaralan kayo, o kung anong gagawin dun,” Reyes said on “Saksi sa Dobol B.”
He continued: “'[Sabi nila] punta muna kayo sa barangay.' Ganito-ganun. Habang papunta, binulungan ako ng pulis. Sabing ganun, ‘Idol, baka puwede mong samahin sila para pang-suporta sa mga tao.’ Sumama ako, syempre.”
Reyes also clarified that he had been playing in the area upon the invitation of the venue owner, who apparently had no permit to operate amid the pandemic.
Reyes added that many senior citizens, as well as a few children, were also in the audience, and social distancing was not followed.
In the clip that went viral on Saturday morning, police arrived on the scene near the end of the match, with some participants scattering as they approached.
Nevertheless, Reyes told the radio station that they weren’t arrested or sanctioned, just given a stern talking-to. “Pinagsabihan lang umano sila sa barangay at pinauwi rin agad,” reported DZBB’s Lala Roque.
Reyes warned his fans, “Ang masasabi ko sa mga kababayan ko, sa mga sumusuporta sa akin, sa mga sumusubaybay sa akin [...] Pandemic ngayon. Ang binabawal ngayon magkadikit-dikit ang mga tao."
He continued, "Kailangan sa susunod social distance na, kailangan ‘wag dikit-dikit at hindi masyado maraming tao.”
Still, Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra said that possible sanctions may be meted against the sports legend.
“He’s a GAB licensee and we’ll call him to shed light on what happened. And if he needs to be suspended, then he will be suspended for not following [health protocols],” said Mitra in a report by the Manila Bulletin.