By CARLO ANOLIN
Pool legend Efren “Bata” Reyes clarified that he was not arrested by the police after getting caught playing in San Pedro, Laguna as seen on viral videos circulating on social media recently.
Still, the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) was not happy.
GAB Chairman Baham Mitra said Reyes may still face possible sanctions for the incident.
“He’s a GAB-licensee and we’ll call him to shed light on what happened. And if he needs to be suspended, then he will be suspended for not following.”
“We will find out first if he’s guilty or not to get his side. ‘Di naman pwedeng crucify kaagad, kailangan ma-imbestigahan (We will find out first if he’s guilty or not to get his side. We cannot crucify him right away for that, we need further investigation),” said Mitra in a phone call interview Monday, March 15.
“Only the police and law enforcement agencies can go after them (violators). Kami naman we will call him (Reyes), we will remind him, kapag nakita namin na may violation siya, pwede namin siyang i-suspend, pwede namin tanggalin lisensya niya, pwede namin siya pagalitan, pwede namin siya i-sanction pero ‘di namin siya pwede ipakulong kasi ‘di naman kami pulis. (On our end, we will call and remind Reyes and if proven that he committed such violations, we may suspend, remove his license, reprimand, sanction him, but we cannot put him in jail because we’re not the police).
Reyes, in an interview over radio DZBB Monday morning, March 15, said he only accompanied those who were called out by the police to give “support,” especially spectators not practicing social distancing at a certain open billiards hall.
He added that individuals taken to the barangay hall were only “invited” and were allowed to return home immediately.
“Kailangan sa susunod social distance na, kailangan ‘wag dikit-dikit at hindi masyado maraming tao,” said Reyes.
The 66-year-old billiards world champion attended the said exhibition game under the impression that it was organized with a permit, but the video suggests otherwise.
In the viral clip, the police, seen confiscating several billiards equipment, claimed that the gathering was held “without permit.”
Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran, Laguna Provincial Police spokesperson, also shed light on the matter and seconded that “no arrest was made.”
“‘Di naman po inaresto. Dinala sa barangay pero kinausap lang kasi ang daming nanonood. Nawawala na ang social distancing,” said Gaoiran.
Reyes also admitted that he wasn’t wearing a face mask in-game due to difficulty with breathing, but insisted that he puts it back on while resting.
The man known as “The Magician” said they had received an initial warning from certain officials, but the police eventually came when the match was about to end.
The multi-titled world champion said the police got furious over the fact that the audience scattered and ran away from the venue upon inspection, who was also attended by billiards great Francisco “Django” Bustamante as a spectator.
Per protocols, huge social gatherings, especially without proper physical distancing, are prohibited. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had allowed non-contact sports such as golf, badminton, tennis, swimming, among others, in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) provided that minimum public health standards are observed.
Since Reyes is a senior citizen, he is discouraged to go outside his house and must have limited interaction unless of an urgent matter such as obtaining essential goods and services.
Reyes was involved in a hoax claiming his supposed death in January, which was later denied by other videos as well as daughter Chelo.