Student-athletes, persons not products

On August of 2013, UP Lady Tanker Mikee Bartolome filed a temporary restraining order before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to stop the UAAP from applying the two-year residency rule.

Bartolome was a gifted athlete back when she was playing for UST in high school. She won Rookie of the Year in Season 72, and has bagged numerous medals along the way. Yet, an athlete as decorated as her wanted something simple: to play for her dream school, UP.

On September 3, 2013, her petition was granted by the RTC and Bartolome was cleared to play in Season 76’s swimming tournament as a member of the then four-time defending champions. The court’s action received mixed reactions, with most of the negative feedback coming from the UAAP board members and member schools.

Come tournament day, only UP and Ateneo competed in the event, while DLSU, UE, UST, and Adamson opted not to participate in that year’s competition.

The actions of the member schools who boycotted the event led Senator Pia Cayetano to draft the Senate Bill 2226 which was, “An act protecting the amateur nature of student-athletes in the Philippines by regulating the residency requirement and prohibiting the commercialization of student-athletes.”

Just recently, a law came into fruition as President Benigno Aquino III approved Cayetano’s proposed bill, signed on August 26 of this year as Republic Act 10676, otherwise known as the ‘Student-Athletes Protection Act”. The law mainly focuses on the residency requirement and commercialization of student-athletes to address the pressing issue regarding student-athlete recruitment and retainment policy.


Residency no more

The major change introduced by the new law is the scrapping of the residency rule imposed by athletic associations on participating athletes. Such a restriction applies to a student-athlete graduating from high school who is no longer required to serve any residency in a college or university he is enrolling in for the succeeding season.

Athletic associations such as the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) are, however, authorized to impose a maximum of one year residency requirement to student-athletes transferring from one competing school to another, including schools, colleges, or universities outside the country. This is a regulatory measure to prevent, if not altogether stop, the issue of piracy.

Infogrphic by Dani Patalinghog

Commercialization of student-athletes

Under the Student-Athletes Protection Act, only the following benefits and incentives may be given by a school to a student-athlete: discounts on tuition and miscellaneous fees, full board and lodging, school and athletic paraphernalia, reasonable monthly allowance to be standardized and set by the athletic associations, medical and other similar benefits to further enhance the athletic and academic abilities of student-athletes.

Any other benefits or incentives extended by the school to the student-athlete or his immediate family members are prohibited by the law and the violators of this provision may face penalties and sanctions by the Department of Education (DepEd) or the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

In recognition of the constitutional right of student-athletes to hone their skills and abilities in their chosen amateur sports without prejudice to their education, the law seeks to ensure that the potential of student-athletes are maximized and are free from any type of exploitation.

According to the law’s Declaration of Policy, RA 10676 seeks to uphold the constitutional provision of Section 1 of Article 14, protecting and promoting the rights of all citizens to acquire quality education. Furthermore, Section 19(1) of the same article states that the “State shall promote physical education, sports programs and competitions alongside training for international competitions to foster self-discipline, teamwork and excellence for the attainment of a healthy and alert citizenry.”

The law’s full effect will be felt during UAAP Season 78 as stakeholders of the UAAP are still divided on whether this law would be beneficial for the league. As the law states, residency requirements will only be implemented on transferring college student-athletes for a maximum of only one year. Residency requirements for high school students, on the other hand, are now non-existent, to foster a fairer league, which the country’s constitution seeks to uphold on every aspect.

Dan Jerusalem

By Dan Jerusalem

Jason Runes

By Jason Runes

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