Sen.Pia on UAAP boycott: What are we teaching our children?
Transcript of interview with Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
On the UAAP swimming competitions boycott
Solar Sportsdesk hosted by Jinno Rufino and Cesca Litton
20 September 2013
Jinno Rufino [JR]: On the line we have Senator Pia Cayetano who has been very vocal, not just about the UAAP residency rule, but about the situation with [Mikee] Bartolome. Good evening Senator…I know you have been monitoring the situation with UAAP and the swimming competition. Can we get a reaction on you on what happened in the past couple of days?
Senator Pia S. Cayetano [SPSC]: Basically it is very disappointing. I cannot even think of the most accurate adjective to describe the situation because it is really appalling the way those who are tasked to mold our youth for the future, to be responsible citizens, are the very ones who are destroying their future, destroying their morale, and providing an environment of hostility.
It is really with great sadness that I heard about the latest — this boycott. But before that was the outright and blatant refusal of the UAAP Board members to honor the court’s decision. And when I heard that they now decided to twist the court’s decision and to say that, ‘Ok they honor the TRO on the two-year residency rule, but they will now go back to the one-year residency rule’… you don’t have to be a university graduate and you don’t need a PhD to read the order where it clearly says that the intention is to let Mikee Bartolome play in this [76th] UAAP season. So they are twisting words to make it appear that they have grounds for enforcing their residency rule which has already been ordered by the court as null and void.
So it is really, really sad that these are the people who are the governing body of one of the premier athletic university associations that our country has today. And I heard that student-athletes were crying during the meet. Even Mikee’s former UST teammates were sad by the fact that they even hugged her. These are her UST teammates in high school who are now competing. They hugged her after she won. They wouldn’t want to boycott her if they were not threatened by people who they have no choice to make decisions against. And Mikee was swimming in tears. I mean, I hope these people have a conscience because these are the children that they are molding for our future.
Chesca Litton [CL]: Senator, will there be any actions taken regarding the UAAP Board disregarding the TRO?
SPSC: I’m not their [Bartolomes’] lawyer. But I am a lawyer so I can tell you that I understand the legal process. And what they did was clearly contempt of court. So I leave that up to the lawyers of Mikee to figure out, how to handle it, but I definitely will not let this pass. I am the chairman of the Committee on Education in the Senate, I am an elected senator, and before my very eyes, rights of our youth are being violated by these people. So I also have means to ensure that they be held responsible for the extremely unreasonable, childish behavior that they have been exhibiting.
JR: Senator, in a text to Solar Sportsdesk, UAAP Board representative Anton Montinola said, ‘The UAAP respected the TRO which requires both parties to return the status quo, which is a one-year residency. Mikee’s elder sister complied with this rule under the exact same circumstances (Mikee’s transfer from UST to UP). Moreover the UAAP filed a Motion for Reconsideration which has not been given due course by the judge. We beg Senator Pia to be patient…’
SPSC: Well I have two things to say to that… First thing, UAAP, Mr. Montinola, says that they now interpret the court’s TRO to give them the license to revert to the one-year residency rule. What he did not say in his text to you and in any other pronouncement is that the UAAP Board actually filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration on this TRO in the court citing its one-year rule. But this too was denied by the court in a subsequent ruling on September 18 wherein the court said that that one-year rule would trivialize and render the TRO moot.
Because what does the TRO mean? It says ‘restraining order.’ That means you are restrained from enforcing the two-year rule, and it further said that that rule is void and she’s allowed to play. Obviously if you will now insist that, ‘Oh, by the way, we have this old rule. We will bring it back to life. It’s a one-year rule,’ well then how will she play, right? Because you are now imposing a rule that still will not let her play now [76th season]. The court said, ‘Let her play now.’ And it reiterated that in its September 18 ruling. Of course they do not mention that, why? Because they have all the intentions of not honoring that right of the students.
Now what did you say, ‘Senator Pia, please be patient? Mikee will have four years to play?’ That is not the point. It just goes to show that if that is the sentiment of the UAAP Board, then they have no understanding of the right of these student-athletes. The right of the student-athlete is to play as soon as, or whenever, they are called upon by their school to play.
So if she has the talent to make it to the lineup within the [freshman] year, who are we, who is he, or any one member of the Board, to tell her: ‘Don’t worry you can play next year plus another four years or five years.’ That is not our right to dictate on the child. That is between the child and her coach to say that she should play now.
As it turns out, may Gold na yata si Mikee, and mayroon syang Bronze. She podiumed on these two different events. So obviously, her coach deemed her good enough. Who are we to tell her in five years mo pa gawin yan? Or next year mo pa gawin yan and we will add another year down the road? What is that? It is not about my patience, it is about the right of this child.
JR: I’ve got to ask you Senator: Why do you think the UAAP came up with this ruling of residency for a freshman athlete in the very first place? Not the two-year [residency rule], but the one-year, to begin with?
SPSC: To begin with, that came up – and this is not what I think – this is what they told me: It’s because of piracy, particularly in basketball. That’s where it came from. Eto yung puno at dulo ng problema nila and they are now making this broad rule that will affect every sport and every athlete. You have a piracy issue? Deal with it as piracy. Don’t come up with this stupid residency requirement that now impinges on the right of every high school graduate to choose the university of their choice.
CL: Senator, after all these events, after the swim meet where Mikee Bartolome was crying, her former team mates were crying, and of course, given the statement issued by Mr. Montinola, how will these affect any dialogues between you and the UAAP Board?
SPSC: I have no desire to dialogue with them. I dialogued with them, I had a hearing [April 1, 2013 at the Senate] and I dialogued with them in good faith. They did not do anything. The only thing they did was go back to what was already in place, which was your high school coach can release you.
Let me give you an example: Most high school athletes have so much respect and love for their alma mater. You know what? Try to search for ‘Mikee Bartolome’ on Twitter. I saw it and you know what it says under her name describing her? It says ‘Tomasian.’ She being a UST high school graduate. And then it also says, ‘UP Maroon.’ She’s also proud of being a UP Maroon. So why are we now trying to trivialize her loyalty to her high school and to her college? That is her choice. So what these people are trying to do now is to ensure that you do not transfer to any school. So I have no desire to dialogue with them.
JR: Alright thank you very much Senator. And we’re going to keep our eyes and our ears open for the latest developments…
PSC: I think you should because people should know [that] before our very eyes, we are trampling on the rights of these students and these are our future leaders as well. So what are we teaching them? We talk about all these scandals, all these moral decay, well, we are teaching it to our child. In their faces.
CL: Thank you so much, Senator. #