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DoJ doubts bubble probe

Alvin Murcia

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The Department of Justice (DoJ) has yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction on the unlawful training done by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) men’s basketball team at the height of the nationwide community quarantine.

According to Secretary Menardo Guevarra, they would release a resolution on whether the report of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) on the training bubble masterminded by former UST coach Aldin Ayo warrants their action.

The DoJ wasn’t supposed to be involved in the Sorsogon bubble.

But with the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) group of the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusement Board and Department of Health together with CHEd agreeing with the UST report that Ayo is liable for the illegal training in Sorsogon, DoJ was requested to step in since the government panel doesn’t have investigative and police powers to launch a more comprehensive investigation.

After all, DoJ is serving as the investigative arm of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

But Guevarra stressed that they are still studying their jurisdiction on the case, especially since CHEd chairman Prospero de Vera admitted that the UST report doesn’t dwell on alleged violation of laws or quarantine protocols.

“All these are under study. We will act soon,” Guevarra said.

Meanwhile, a DoJ official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying that they are doubtful if they have jurisdiction over the Ayo bubble following de Vera’s statement.

“I think it’s more of an administrative (case) than criminal investigation unless the DoJ will direct the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own investigation to determine possible criminal liability,” the official said.

The insider, however, seriously doubts if the NBI would step in since the Sorsogon City Philippine national Police (PNP) already conducted a prove and declared that Ayo is “not liable for violation of any health protocol pursuant to the IATF-EID guidelines and local executive order in the province during the arrival and stay of the UST players in his residence.”

The Sorsogon PNP findings directly contradict the outcome of the UST probe that led to the ouster of Ayo and his assistant coaches, resignation of UST athletic director Fr. Jannel Abogado and decision of the UAAP to indefinitely ban the former UST mentor

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