Monday, June 2, 2014

Senate passes bill regulating policies governing inter-school athletic competitions

MANILA-The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill which seeks to regulate the policies that govern the eligibility status of student-athletes in inter-school competitions such as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

Senate Bill No. 2226, otherwise known as the “Student-Athletes Protection Act,” was approved with 15 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and zero abstention.

Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture and sponsor of the bill, said the measure proposes that “no residency requirement shall be imposed on a high school student-athlete transferring to another high school or to a college or university to encourage them to participate in sports competition.”

 In the case of college athletes, transferring from one college or university to another, a maximum period of one-year residency may be imposed by athletic associations, said Cayetano, explaining the bill.

Residency rules require transferees to sit out the incoming school year. In some cases like the UAAP, transferees are restricted from participating in competitive sports for two years.

“One would think that student-athletes would have the pick of schools. But this is not the case for many of them as their right to choose the school they want to study in is restricted by the residency rules imposed by the athletic associations,” Cayetano, who was an athlete herself at the University of the Philippines, said.

 “It is clear that the residency rules were meant to address piracy. Piracy, when it includes the offer of extravagant luxuries to student athletes, should be prohibited. We must remember that a right to quality education is enshrined in the Constitution,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano cited the case of swimmer Mikee Bartolome, who moved from high school to college from the University of Santo Tomas to the University of the Philippines, and was prevented by the UAAP from competing for two seasons.
She said Bartolome was able to secure a temporary restraining order from the court but 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.
The proposed legislation also prohibits schools from giving “commercial consideration” to any of its student-athletes or their immediate family members.

“Schools shall not offer a student-athlete or his immediate family members benefits or incentives beyond that enumerated under Section 5, which are contrary to the nature of amateur sports and which may result to the commercialization of a student-athlete,” Cayetano said.

Currently, schools are allowed to give incentives to deserving student-athletes including tuition,miscellaneous school fees, books and other learning materials, board and lodging, uniform, equipment, a reasonable living allowance and other similar benefits.

“Everyone has the right to education and the student-athletes should not be stripped of such right and freedom of choice the moment he wears his jersey,” Cayetano said. (Olive Caunan)

Legarda on PHL Hosting of ASEM: A Chance to Share and Learn About Resilience

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that the Philippine hosting of the 2014 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Manila Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) on June 4-6, 2014 is an opportunity to share and learn about building resilience.

Legarda, UNISDR Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said that “through the ASEM Conference, the Philippines is given the chance to share its experience not only in coping with disasters but more importantly in its quest to build resilience as well as to learn from other nations’ stories. We thank the ASEM leaders for giving us this opportunity.”

Legarda, who is a Plenary Speaker for the Role of Women in DRRM, said that the conference takes off from the Philippines’ Haiyan experience as delegates aim to craft the Tacloban Declaration that will contain recommendations on improved disaster prevention and preparedness efforts to better manage mega disasters.

“Even before Haiyan happened, other mega disasters such as the 2011 Japan tsunami and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had already pushed us to rethink how we must build back stronger and improve our resilience strategies. The 2014 ASEM Manila Conference is a chance for the Philippines to take the lead in the shaping of DRRM policy because though we are a nation beset with challenges from disasters and climate change, we have many best practices on DRRM to share,” she said.

Before the plenary proper, delegates will visit Tacloban on June 4 to grasp the experience of the victims of Haiyan and how one of the worst-hit towns is coping with the effects of the disaster.

Aside from Legarda, other plenary speakers will be Philippine cabinet officials and leaders of international organizations on DRRM, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Kristalina Georgieva, and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Head Margareta Wahlstrom.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is the lead coordinator for the conference in partnership with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).


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