Collegiate leagues need to wait some more

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    ALTHOUGH the Inter-Agency Task Force has given the green light, the actual training of collegiate athletes remains on hold until the Commission on Higher Education, in cooperation with other government agencies, comes up with the proper health and safety guidelines in two to three weeks.

    This was stressed yesterday by CHED chairman Prospero de Vera in an online press conference where he was joined by representatives from the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board and Department of Health.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the IATF has green-lighted the training of collegiate athletes, pointing to IATF Resolution No. 68 on released last Sept. 3.

    The resolution said that student collegiate athletic associations as defined under Republic Act No. 10676 or the Student-Athletes Protection Act “shall be allowed to resume their preparatory trainings in areas under General Community Quarantine and Modified General Community Quarantine, subject to guidelines as may be issued by the Commission on Higher Education.”

    De Vera clarified that under the Joint Administrative Order issued by the IATF last July, only pro leagues such as the PBA and the PFL are allowed to resume training.

    “The training of collegiate athletes remains suspended because we were not a party to the JAO (Joint Administrative Order) last July,” De Vera said.

    “The JAO limits the training to professional sports; that is the content of the order. We are not part of the JAO. We got into the picture because of the issue of possible violations that involves not just athletes and athletes who are students,” he said. “So they are covered by CHED advisories.”

    De Vera said the CHED, in cooperation other government agencies, will form a technical working group that will come up with the guidelines and proper health protocols so that athletes in the collegiate leagues like the UAAP and NCAA can resume actual training.

    “The CHED will organize a TWG composed of the CHED, PSC, Department of Health and GAB and representatives of the collegiate leagues to craft the (health and safety) guidelines,” De Vera said, adding the TWG would be led by CHED executive director Atty. Cinderella Filipina Beniter-Jaro, while UP-Diliman College of Human Kinetics dean Francisco Diaz will be a member.

    PSC chief Butch Ramirez said the guidelines being crafted by CHED will also compliment and have a bearing on the health protocols for the resumption of training of national athletes since some of them are still college students.

    “These guidelines will be anchored on the pertinent provisions of the JAO Order issued by the PSC, GAB, DOH and IATF (last July), and enhanced by existing practices of professional leagues that have started training,” De Vera said.

    “The guidelines will be likewise be based on those being used by international sports bodies which is also being used by some of our professional leagues using practical realities on the ground,” he added.

    De Vera stresed that the guidelines would allow collegiate athletes aged 21 and below, who have been restricted to their homes under the existing government quarantine rules, to train once the protocols are implemented.

    Asked how long the return-to-train rules for collegiate athletes can be finished, De Vera replied: “Matagal na ang three weeks dito. That is why have asked the help of
    dean Diaz to look for workhorses in other leagues who can help fast track the process.

    “We will then cascade these guidelines to the other leagues once we go along. The PSC has the expertise on this so we have asked its help.”