You’re not addressing the real problem.
The senator, who is the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, organized a public hearing to get the side of the league on the controversial rule, as well as hear from some resource persons and athletes affected by the rule. The Senate cannot directly order the UAAP to change its rules, and the hearing was done "in aid of legislation".
“I cannot say that this is for the best interest of the student if these are the practices that we are implementing,” Cayetano said. “I think it’s a given that the school would like the recruit to stay with them. But what is the reasonable amount of pressure or action that the school can take to keep the student there?”
The Board passed the new rule last month, which many felt came in the wake of FEU juniors basketball star Jerie Pingoy’s decision to play for Ateneo in the seniors level after winning back-to-back junior MVP awards and leading the Baby Tamaraws to the juniors crown. Curiously, no representative from FEU attended the hearing.
“What’s been happening is the UAAP has been more competitive now,” explained UAAP President Nilo Ocampo of National University. “And I understand other schools have been recruiting from other UAAP colleges. The other member schools decided for the amendments committee to review the existing rule and to recommend the board in order to protect the school, especially those who have made efforts to recruit during high school and develop the talents of these athletes.”
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It had been implied that some athletes transfer due to bigger perks and allowances offered by rival schools. The new rule was meant to curb such transfers, but in Cayetano’s mind, it hardly addressed real the problem.
“Do we have guidelines on the allowances that the UAAP gives to its athletes?” she asked the Board, before addressing the issue of a student-athlete “owing” it to the school to stay put considering the “investment” poured in by the school for the athlete’s training and allowances.
“If the student is an MVP and gives his school a championship, is that not enough repayment for the investment the school has made?” Cayetano asked, adding: “It’s high time that there should limitations on these allowances. I do not believe that this two-year residency rule is the solution to this problem.”
Also speaking at the public hearing was Pingoy’s father, Jerry Pingoy, who said it was always the dream of his son to play for Ateneo.
“Idol niya kasi si Chris Tiu,” the elder Pingoy said. “Hindi nila alam, pinaghirapan ng anak ko iyan. Kung magpalit kaya tayo ng puwesto. Hindi lang naman ako ang nasaktan eh. May iba pang magulang diyan.
“Hihingi ako ng dispensa sa board. Sana po maawa kayo sa bata. Parang parusa na iyon. Dapat ako ang parusahan, hindi iyong anak ko. Kasi siya lang ang naglaro, ako naman ang nag-advise."
Adamson Board Representative Fr. Max Rendon, who voted in favor of the new rule, spoke from experience in explaining why Adamson supports the measure. “In Adamson University, part of our school program is to recruit some of our players from the provinces for high school. In high school, we train them, so that once they get to college they can easily integrate themselves into the college team.”
Other sports affected
Cayetano also asked the Board if they considered the effect of the rule on athletes of our sports, and on athletes who aren’t being recruited by their colleges.
“What about the others sports? Because of a rule that affects one major sport (basketball), the other athletes are now affected. The repercussions may not have been thought of very clearly.”
A parent of one such athlete, Vic Bartolome, spoke about how the new rule has affected his daughter, a swimmer who competed for UST in the high school level but who wishes to go to UP for college.
“In UP, if you are not a varsity athlete, you don’t get a scholarship and you have to pay full tuition,” Bartolome explained. “My daughter will have to do that for two years, and I am just a government employee.”
“May I know from the UAAP Board if this was even considered?” Cayetano said after hearing Bartolome’s story. “Do you recognize that these are the repercussions? I sincerely ask that you revisit this rule. Look at what we’re doing to our athletes. Look at what you’re doing to these children.
“Look at his (Bartolome’s) daughter. She will not have that motivation because she is not part of the UAAP pool. We basically curtailed her future after high school. I mean, my heart breaks. Swimming, walang kinalaman sa intriga sa basketball. I cannot find the logic in that. It really, really just shocks the senses out of me.”
Ocampo said that athletes affected can do other things while serving out the two-year residency. In NU, he said, they recruited a college volleyball player from another UAAP school who had to sit out two years, and during which time they sent her abroad for training.
“There are other tournaments she joined,” Ocampo added.
Cayetano, though, was unimpressed with the answer.
“Show me a free-wheeling democratic country that imposes two years. My point is, you had to find something for her to do for two years. The fact is, you’re sending them abroad because she had nothing to do for two years.
“I know that there are other tournaments. But come on. UAAP is the tournament you want to be in. Huwag na tayo magbolahan. We’re depriving these children of (the chance of) playing.
“You now present these athletes with a terrible choice. Either stay with my school or move and sit out two years. How terrible is that?”
“I beg your indulgence, I beg your sincere cooperation in rethinking this rule. That is the situation that we have, dear members of the board.”
Cayetano also hinted at seeking legal action should the Board still enforce the rule. “I will support these parents to explore all legal options to curtail this rule,” she said.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, Cayetano said she would be making a formal recommendation, namely for “the entire two-year residency period for high school to be removed, and the two-year residence for college transferees be brought back to one year. One year is more than enough.”
“I will call a spade a spade. It is meant more to protect the institution, not the child.”
Ricky Palou of Ateneo told the senator that the Board would tackle the issue in their next meeting.
“We have another board meeting [on April 16], and we will bring up what was discussed here and decided whether to repeal or amend the rule,” Palou said.