Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Senator Pia Cayetano, Villar to knock out those senseless residency rules

This will appear in the Saturday, April 12 edition of the Business Mirror.

Knocking out those senseless residency rules
by rick olivares

Essentially, the UAAP’s Two-Year Residency Rule – even before it enters its second year -- is terminated.

The second step in taming the wild west that is Philippine scholastic sports took a more serious turn when Senators Pia Cayetano and Cynthia Villar presided over a public hearing at the Senate of the Philippines in Pasay City last Wednesday, April 10, regarding two bills that will protect student-athletes.

With the UAAP seemingly taking its time resolving the controversial residency rules, Sen. Cayetano wasn’t willing to wait another year while even more student-athletes in limbo or stuck in a situation where they have no say.

Blunt and not mincing her words, Senator Pia Cayetano called the rule "a human rights violation" and said that she will have Senate Bill 2166: An Act Providing For The Magna Carta Of Student-Athletes passed into law this June whether the UAAP gets its act together or not. “Kick out that rule because it is a human rights violation and before I pass the rule into law this June,” admonished Cayetano who expressed disappointment over the league's inaction.

UAAP President Dr. Ester Albano-Garcia of the University of the East revealed that the league is doing its part by engaging multinational advisory firm KPMG to draft reforms for the league. However, since the UAAP’s committee on amendments had already met recently, any new suggestions by the firm will not be acted upon by the UAAP until the next school year.

Senators Cayetano and Cynthia Villar found the move unacceptable and motioned for a speedy resolution to the mess that has engulfed even leagues in the provinces.

An incredulous Villar passionately spoke about the enriching experience of moving from one school to another that broadens a student’s horizons. “The residency rules deny them that right,” she pointed out.

She left everyone in the assembly with a sobering thought, “It is unfortunate that we have to make legislation. Don’t let Congress discipline you.”

The two Senate Bills waiting to be passed into law are SBN 2166: An Act Providing For The Magna Carta Of Student-Athletes (authored by Sen. Cayetano) and SBN 1252: An Act Regulating Certain Conduct By Sports Agents Relating To The Signing Of Contracts With Student-Athletes (authored by Sen. Defensor-Santiago). Due to the lack of time, only certain provisions of the Magna Carta of Student-Athletes was tackled.

These two Senate Bills first stemmed from the controversy arising from the residency rules slapped by the UAAP on student-athletes who moved from one UAAP high school to another UAAP college.

The first step was the public hearing held last April 1, 2013 when Sen. Cayetano invited UAAP officials to shed light on the issues surrounding the two-year residency rule.  However, conspicuously absent in the discussion were four schools that voted for the rule: FEU, La Salle, UST, and UE. Adamson also voted for the passing of the rule but was present at the hearing as they were the host school.

During Thursday’s public hearing, representatives from the UAAP, NAASCU, WNCAA, PASUC, and SCUAA were present. Conspicuously absent despite receiving invites were any representatives from the NCAA and NCRAA. Also represented in the public hearing were the Philippine Sports Commission, the Commission on Higher Education, and the National Youth Commission.

Dr. Albano-Garcia spoke in defense of the rule saying that their 10-peat volleyball champions in the juniors have been repeatedly “poached” – to use her word – by one school. She even pointed out that four of their top players all went that one school – “which is statistically impossible unless there is something behind the move.” 

"The problem with that argument," debunked Cayetano, “is what about the other players who are not recruited? Are they absorbed by the seniors team?”

The UE President could not answer. 

In another vexing statement, De. Albano-Garcia said that the different university presidents of the UAAP are not aware of what the UAAP Board Members -- their representatives -- come up with. Well, it's good they do not micromanage but aren't they appalled at all the controversy year in and out? Aren't they shocked that the board members come up with all these inane rules? And they have the PhDs and the matter isn't even rocket science.

When personally asked by the Senator to further shed light on the plight of the student-athletes, I mentioned six current high school players – who I obviously could not name for they went to me for help but requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals by their schools.  These six were not recruited by their seniors teams. The problem is, not only are they are not allowed to try out for another school team but they are not being released. This is an act of hoarding as in local sports parlance, "hindi ka papaiyakin kapag nakalaban mo." 

Some are being tabbed for Team B but no one wants to be on Team B. Hence, trying their luck elsewhere. In the absence of a release what can they do? It should be known that they too are also after the scholarships because they do not come from wealthy families. At the very end, they could wind up with nothing.

Once more the league’s logic confounded everyone. The root of the problem – the lawlessness when it comes to recruiting – is hurting student-athletes and the league. Instead of addressing its problems, the league comes up with even more rules that compound the issue.

In the interest of haste and the welfare of the student-athletes, Cayetano will present the bill for approval on May 5. Collegiate associations have been invited to attend the workshop that will fine-tune the provisions of the bill after Holy Week.

During my turn on the floor, I respectfully asked if I could make a suggestion/provision to the bill. And this is what I recommended:

Section 7 Obligations of Schools
That all student-athletes be informed of any financial obligations stemming from their recruitment and scholarship if any at all.

The reason why I brought this up is some schools – UAAP and NCAA – suddenly ask their student-athletes to pay for miscellaneous fees, training fees etc. when they leave or are removed. In one school, some athletes saw their scholarship revoked when they did not win a medal. When they tried to get their diploma, they were asked to pay for fees amounting to over P100,000! They could not afford to pay for it so they never got their diploma or their transcript of records making it difficult to apply for work. Imagine the inhumanity of that. Is that practiced for all the school’s athletes? Not at all.  

It turns out that the inanity regarding rules isn’t confined to the UAAP and the NCAA. It also festers in CESAFI and even the SCUAA. They too have adopted residency rules and are plagued by "commercialization". Many of those in attendance agreed that collegiate sports is now highly commercialized and any amateur tag is just for show. It is semi-pro if not pro already.

Get this, in SCUAA, they disallow national players from competing in league play because they are deemed to be “a cut above the rest.” What kind of bunk is that?

National competitions or even international ones do not happen all the time so what will do when they aren’t competing? Just continue to train? Ano sila, Smart Gilas?

With regards to recruiting, the UAAP schools are upset at other member schools for recruiting their players. BUT HOW MANY ARE ACTUALLY HOMEGROWN PLAYERS WHO CAME UP FROM THEIR GRADE SCHOOL RANKS? Did they recruit anyone from their provincial schools? Furthermore, didn’t they promise something that their provincial schools could not offer? WHAT HYPOCRITES!

It is time to deal this stupid rule and all other stupid rules a knockout punch. And I am glad Senators Cayetano and Villar are pushing for this.



  1. Ang galing mo talaga! "Ano sila Smart Gilas?!' Naku e yun ay kung matatawag mo nga na smart. ;-)

  2. Bottomline: Scrap residency rule first for hs to college recruits (within uaap). It's absurd. Apply only the residency rule, 2 years, I don't care, to players transferring colleges within the league. Then max age still applies to limit eligibility.
    Then, address the recruitment practice, yes, it should be transparent and with limits (caps).