Student-athletes bill advances in Senate

News Release
21 May 2014

Sen. Pia: Bill protecting student-athletes advances in the Senate

A proposed measure seeking to prohibit residency rules which curtail the rights of the country’s student-athletes and prevent the commercialization of school athletic leagues has moved closer to being passed in the Senate.

Senator Pia S. Cayetano took to the Senate floor earlier this week to sponsor Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2226, the ‘Student-Athletes Protection Act’ after 14 senators signed Committee Report No.29 endorsing the bill for plenary discussion.

Aside from the lady senator, other signatories of the committee report include senators Sonny Angara, Teofisto Guingona III, Loren Legarda, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Francis Escudero, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Cynthia Villar, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Aquilino Pimentel III, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

The bill was the output of hearings, consultations and technical group meetings on Cayetano’s SBN 2166, which provides a Magna Carta of Student-Athletes, and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s SBN 1252 which seeks to regulate the conduct of sports agents in the signing of contracts with student-athletes.

In her sponsorship speech on Monday, Cayetano batted for the passage of the bill which will prohibit schools and school athletic associations from imposing residency requirements on high school student-athletes who transfer to another school in college upon graduation.

SBN 2226 also disallows the imposition of any residency rule in the case of high school student-athletes transferring to another high school. For varsity players moving from one university to another university, the bill allows a maximum residency period of one year.

“Athletes thrive during competition. And to deprive an athlete of this, to bench them for a significant period, could be damaging to their physical development as well as their emotional and mental state,” noted the senator, who was team captain of the University of the Philippines varsity volleyball team back in her college years.

“It is my simple desire that the student-athletes get what they deserve: The opportunity to study and play in the school of their choice,” she added.

“By doing nothing, these deplorable incidents stand to be repeated, again and again, under the continued enforcement by various athletic associations of the so-called residency rules.”

Cayetano said that while she understood that residency rules were designed to prevent the piracy of outstanding athletes among rival schools, this must not be done at the expense of the rights and well-being of the student-athletes.

“Pirating outstanding athletes from high school to college has become rampant because of offers of extravagant luxuries,” she pointed out. “Piracy, when it includes the offer of extravagant luxuries to student-athletes, should be prohibited.”

As such, SBN 2226 also proposes to regulate and put a limit on the kinds of benefits and incentives that schools may offer to student-athletes, while also prohibiting other incentives ‘which are contrary to the nature of amateur sports’ and ‘may result to the commercialization’ of the student-athlete.

Cayetano cited the case of swimmer Mikee Bartolome, a victim of the two-year residency rule of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) which the league imposed last season. Bartolome, who moved from high school to college from the University of Santo Tomas to the University of the Philippines, was initially prevented by the UAAP from competing for two seasons.

But the freshman swimmer was able to secure a temporary restraining order from the court and was eventually able to join the swimming competitions. But Bartolome had to swim under a harsh environment amid a boycott that was reportedly instigated by some UAAP member-schools and league officials who sought to defy the court order.

“Aside from Mikee, there are other athletes who are suffering because of these residency rules. We should be outraged by the traumatic experiences that these student-athletes have to go through,” she said. #

Read: Committee Report No. 29 and Senate Bill No. 2226

Read: Senator Pia S. Cayetano’s sponsorship speech on the ‘Student-Athletes Protection Act’

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