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Philippine commission issues statement on rumors concerning UFC Manila

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Members from the MMA media brought up rumors about possible drug tests and passports being confiscated concerning the UFC Manila cancellation.

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Shortly after UFC Manila was cancelled, a couple of MMA media members started mentioning rumors about a different reason for putting the show off. BJ Penn was injured and they decided not to push through with the October 15 event, but FloCombat’s Jeremy Botter and TalkMMA claim it was because of the Philippine government and the controversial leader’s policies.

Botter doubled up on these statements.

The Games and Amusement Board, which sanctions and oversees MMA and other sporting events in the country, has since issued a statement on the cancellation of the event.

“We at the Games and Amusement board (GAB) are deeply saddened by the cancellation of the UFC event on October 15 at the MOA arena,” GAB Chairman Abraham Mitra said on a statement released on Friday.

“We have received official communication from Mr. David Lewis of the UFC informing us that the event will have to be re-scheduled due to an injury sustained by BJ Penn. We respect this decision of the organizers and will only require them to ensure the reimbursement of patrons who may have already purchased their tickets.”

They also addressed the claims brought up by a few members of the international MMA media.

“We are equally saddened by the rumors that the cause of the cancellation is the drug testing procedure that GAB requires of all professional athletes. This procedure has been in place through the years for no other purpose than to ensure the safety of unarmed combatants and to preserve the integrity of professional sports in the country.”

“The insinuations dragging the country’s anti-drugs campaign into this issue are unfair, irresponsible and counter-productive. Third parties should not take this unfortunate cancellation to take a stab at our President’s efforts to cleanse our country of illegal drugs.”

“We look forward to our continuing relations with the UFC and the MMA world. We are confident that the organizers will clarify this for the benefit of everyone.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the process in the Philippines, the Games and Amusement Board requires cornermen, judges, and competitors to have licenses before they are able to work at those sporting events. One of the prerequisites to being licensed, like many jobs in the country, is to submit to basic drug tests that screen for recreational drugs.

It’s also worth noting that GAB doesn’t have the power to just confiscate people’s passports.

This process has been set for years, and countless sporting events for both local and international organizations have gone through this without any issues. President Duterte, while he is currently in the middle of this highly controversial ‘war on drugs’, has only been in position for 3 months.

What about claims that every single person or employee entering to host events are to be tested and are risking their passports being seized? I don’t doubt that people from the US side of things may think that’s actually happening — and who can blame them with all the craziness filling the media about the country? — but as a person living in this country, I can confidently say that doesn’t have much basis on facts.

Countless foreign organizations regularly host events in the Philippines from all kinds of entertainment and sporting events. Whether it’s broadway shows, sports, bands, DJs, or other celebrity appearances, that sort of thing happens in the country every week. Just recently, bands like Panic at the Disco, Third Eye Blind, and other famous acts performed. The WWE also just had a show in Manila as well, and same goes with other MMA organizations, and numerous others.

Did every single person from all those events pass their drug tests?

Saying that Duterte has a highly controversial approach is a real understatement, but regardless of what you think of his ‘war on drugs’, it certainly has nothing to do with these people’s passports. There’s a media frenzy right now, and a lot of it is truly warranted, but harassing every single foreigner and preventing them from leaving the country? That’s an act that would completely shut down tourism and cause chaos between nations. That would be a pretty wild allegation, even considering the already crazy atmosphere in the Philippines.

Much like how any of Duterte’s controversial statements spread like wildfire, if celebrities or foreigners are being illegally harassed and detained, you can bet that the world would hear about it.