THE Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra, is adopting a pro-active stance in dealing with different quarantine levels due to the surge in COVID-19 cases all over the country.
In fact, GAB is taking the initiative of reaching out to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on behalf of the athletes and the different professional leagues.
Speaking at the weekly “Sports on Air” program last Jan. 21, Mitra said the government regulatory agency in professional sports can now be known for its “GAB Ahead of the Game” strategy in dealing with the pandemic.
“We dont want to be a balakid sa pagre-resume ng professional sports dito sa atin kaya inuunahan na natin ang pagsulat sa IATF,” Mitra told the five-man panel composed of veteran sports journalists.
“Today, I also want to announce na ang GAB, hindi na lang GAB ngayon. Meron na din kaming GAB ahead of the game. What did I mean ahead of the game? Bago pa lang papasok ang alert level, naka-ready na kami. Bago pa magtanong ang mga stakeholders, naka-announce na kami.”
The 52-year-old sports official, who served three terms in the House of Representatives from 2003-2010, said the GAB is happy to be working with dynamic people in sports who can adapt to the situation.
“As we all know, there has been a growth in professional sports despite the pandemic. Why? Because if you want to play, you have a reason to play. Hindi pwedeng laro lang. Kung maglalaro ka for fun lang, hindi naman po pwede sa ngayon. Dapat livelihood mo ito. Yun ang sinasabi ng IATF,” explained Mitra.
“Sa PBA, we already wrote to the IATF about the plan to do a level 3-type of bubble, which is home-venue-home setup. Mula sa bahay, papunta sa laruan at balik sa bahay. Wala na ibang dadaan, hindi na idadaan sa 7-11, hindi na idadaan sa grocery, hindi na kakain sa labas pagkatapos ng game.”
“Normally, it’s the PBA which writes the IATF. Pero pwede naman tayo. Sa ngayon, pinakikiusapan ang IATF na payagang mag-resume ang home-venue-home. Nakausap na din ni PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial ang mga players. Gusto ba nila tumagal, gusto nila mag-resume tayo peto maputol uli dahil may 1-3 mag- positive diyan, hindi na maglalaro. Takot na lahat. I think being professional entails a lot of responsibilities including the health and safety protocols, not just of yourself but of your team and of your family,:
The former Palawan Governor said he hopes the PBA can resume on Chinese New Yearnl on Feb. 1 st the eaiest or Feb.15 at the latest.
“I am not a health expert, pero kung bababa na ang mgs cases, wala na talaga balakid.”
Mitra also clarified that all professional leagues, like the Premier Volleyball League and Philippine Football League, should be allowed to resume.
“Once na pinayagan na ang PBA, all the other leagues will follow. Hindi naman pwedeng papayagan ang PBA, pero yun iba hindi. What should be good for one, should be good for all.”
Mitra said GAB has also coordinated with the Philippine Sports Commission and Department of Health for amendments to the Joint Administrative Order (JAO).
“It’s a supplemental JAO, which will now include the local government units. Kasi kahit pumayag na ang DOH, GAB at PSC, tapos ayaw ng LGU dahil sila ang ma-blame, wala tayong magagawa.
We have to respect the LGUs. Minsan naman pumayag na ang LGUs pero ayaw naman ng GAB dahil sumusunod nga kami sa IATF regulations.”
Asked about allowing fans.back to the games, Mitra said he fuly support the plan
“We’re hoping na payagan na kahit 30 percent capacity sa mga basketball venues tulad ng Mall of Asia Arena sa Pasay City, Ynares Sports Arena sa Pasig City at Smart Araneta Coliseum sa Quezon City tulad ng ipinapatupad sa mga sinehan at iba pang mga indoor facilities ” said Mitra.
“Iba yung pakiramdam na mayroong sumisigaw na fans kung ikukumpara mo dun sa kayo-kayo lang yung naglalaro,na parang nagpa-practice lang.” with reports from Gab Ferreras