SENATOR Pia Cayetano on Wednesday criticized the UAAP for upholding its decision to increase the residency period for high school transferees from one to two years.
In a statement released a day after the league board voted to uphold the controversial residency rule, Cayetano said the league’s decision is a setback to the sports development of the country.
“This ruling is a huge setback in sports development and, in my humble opinion, it is a grave abuse of their authority to regulate the participation of our youth in competitive sports,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano also said that the rule denies the athletes of their freedom to choose which school to attend in college.
“I still believe that this ruling denies athletes of their rights to develop their full potential and is an unreasonable limitation on an athlete’s freedom of choice as well as academic freedom to choose which college to enter into," she said.
“A student-athlete is a student first, then an athlete second. They must be given the choice of which school they think will maximize their skills and prepare them best for their future. We cannot, and should not, take it away from them.”
The lady Senator, a former UAAP athlete herself having played for the University of the Philippines volleyball team in the 1980s, has been a staunch critic of the new rule that was formally passed in Tuesday’s board meeting.
Cayetano expressed disappointment with the league’s decision to uphold the rule despite a Senate hearing last April 1 that exposed effects of the two-year residency on student-athletes.
“It is no secret that this rule came about as a result of the ‘pirating’ of basketball players who were recruited and sponsored as early as high school, only to move to a different university for college," Cayetano said.
“Although there are certainly issues here that need to be addressed, the vast majority of athletes are not even similarly situated, and yet they will pay the price of being benched for two years,” Cayetano said.
Not even a league assurance that the soon-to-be-passed implementing rules of the controversial policy will ease be beneficial to a great majority of student-athletes can appease Cayetano who has threatened to take the issue to court.
“But until we see (the implementing rules), all we know is that this rule stands. And until then, I will continue to fight this unjust and cruel rule and will not hesitate to take this issue to court,” Cayetano said.