Glowing Tigers went farming? Really?

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    Coach Aldin Ayo

    NO training, only farming.

    This was the claim of former University of Santo Tomas coach Aldin Ayo in his sworn statement in the Sorsogon City PNP memorandum that cleared him of any violations of the government’s stringent COVID-19 health protocols.

    Ayo said some of the parents of his players wanted their sons to be under his care due to the financial repercussions brought about by the dreaded pandemic.

    According to the report prepared by Senior M/Sgt. Sergeant Jungie Vito, verified by Investigation Officer Major Pedro Jimenez and police chief Lt. Col. Benito Dipad Jr. concurring, Ayo’s heart was “moved” by the pleas and opted to hold a training camp where his charges engaged in “farm work” by doing errands in his mahogany farm in exchange for 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 said.

    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 blessings to the bubble on the condition that UST would not be liable for any untoward incident that may happen during the training camp.

    The report said the help sought by the parents of his wards prompted Ayo to hold the activity.

    “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.

    “They had players who have families that found it really hard to cope up (sic) 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 also said a father of one player approached former assistant coach McJour Luib last May 30 and asked 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.

    “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.”

    The ill-fated camp was primarily an agricultural activity, with the players doing errands on Ayo’s mahogany farm, according to Ayo.

    “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,” said the report.

    “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 stated that “agricultural activities” are allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in modified genera community quarantine areas like Sorsogon during 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.”