SENATOR Pia Cayetano has condemned an alleged move by some UAAP schools to boycott swimming events where University of the Philippines rookie Anna Dominique 'Mikee' Bartolome is entered on Friday at the Trace Aquatics Center in Los Baños, Laguna.
According to a UAAP official who was at the venue but asked not to be named, entries from other schools declined to compete in events where Bartolome is entered, leaving only swimmers from Ateneo and UP to vie for medals.
The 'boycott' saw some swimmers from other school stepping on the starting block for the events but declining to jump into the pool, the UAAP official added.
The official added that chaos ensued following the 'boycott' as disgruntled parents confronted officials of the teams which didn’t compete, leaving swimmers not just from UP but even from other schools in tears.
Bartolome was ruled ineligible to compete for UP by virtue of the UAAP's controversial rule requiring high school graduates transferring from one member school to another to go through a two-year residency, but managed to enter the competitions on the strength of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by a Quezon City court.
Bartolome, daughter of former PBA referee Vic, competed for University of Santo Tomas in high school before transferring to UP in college.
Incidentally, only Ateneo and UP voted against the implementation of the new residency rule.
Cayetano, who has stood against the controversial residency rule, slammed the schools which allegedly boycotted Bartolome’s events, saying the events that transpired on Friday made for a "sad, sad day for Philippine sports."
“I condemn the boycott instigated by certain school officials at the UAAP swimming competitions in support of the UAAP board's brazen refusal to abide by the court rulings affirming Mikee Bartolome's right to swim for the school of her choice,” Cayetano said in a statement.
“There's nothing to gain from the boycott, except to send the message that the UAAP is too high and too proud to take orders from anyone, including from our honorable courts, even if they trample on the rights of student-athletes.
“By preventing the student-athletes from openly competing and showcasing their talents, the UAAP leadership is proving that promoting the development of the student-athletes is not their priority.
“Instead they would prefer to create a culture of protectionism in support of their narrow institutional interests.
"Sabotaging the swimming competitions will not resolve this issue. Now, not only Mikee but the rest of the student swimmers as well are suffering from the UAAP leadership's intransigence.
“This is a sad, sad day in Philippine sports.”
The UAAP has yet to issue an official statement on the matter although the league had previously stated that it will honor the TRO issued against the league.
Bartolome’s stint, however, came under threat a day before the competition as the UAAP swimming officials initially disallowed her from competing, saying the TRO only had the league reverting to its old rule requiring a one-year residency for transferees.
The swimming officials eventually allowed Bartolome to compete to avoid being charged with contempt.
Bartolome went on to win her first gold in the UAAP in the 200m medley relay on Thursday.