Ayo, in effect, claiming UST players big liars

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    CALL it a war of words.

    That’s how a UAAP coach described the new twist on the allegations that former University of Santo Tomas coach Aldin Ayo breached the government’s stern COVID-19 health protocols when he brought the Growling Tigers practice to his hometown in Capuy, Sorsogon City from mid-June to August.

    The coach told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday the admission of former Growling Tigers skipper CJ Cansino, former big man Ira Bataller, former playmaker Mark Nonoy, and former guard Deo Cuajao should be enough proof that the squad played basketball.

    “Farm training? Players na nga ang nag-validate na may practice doon. Secondly, bawal lumabas ang below 21 years old. May photos, ‘di ba? Two-month farming?” said the coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    “(They had all the needed documents) but lumabas sa NCR? Pero alam naman natin na nag-practice,” the coach added.

    In a stunning twist, the Sorsogon City PNP and Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero ruled out Ayo from any liability in the alleged training bubble, saying UST secured all the necessary police documents before going to Capuy, declaring that they are not persons under monitoring (PUMs), did not have any COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days, were tested seven days prior to the trip, and secured all the necessary travel pass from the Joint Task Force COVID Shield.

    A 14-day mandatory home quarantine was also put in place before the team went on a “personal development farm training,” which was certified by the Capuy barangay captain, the PNP memorandum added.

    In his sworn statement, Ayo said his players engaged mainly in farm work in exchange for allowance, free meals, and free lodging.

    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 said.

    That still should not have been allowed, according to the coach.

    “Iyon (basketball practice) ang major violation. Sa (ibang) barangay nga, if may nag-basketball ay ipinatitigil ng barangay or pulis,” offered the coach.

    Ayo, 42, resigned as Tigers tactician last Sept. 4 and was suspended by the UAAP indefinitely from all its events and activities last Sept. 9.

    The Commission on Higher Education has issued a show cause order to UST for violating its advisories that “prohibited mass gatherings such as ceremonies and school activities, until the IATF prohibition is lifted,” last Sept. 7.

    The Department of Justice and Department of Interior Local Government also last Sept. 7 are also probing the incident for possible violations of local ordinances rules.

    The ill-fated UST bubble was pricked after Cansino said he was kicked out of the team due to “defiance of authority” last Aug. 21.