Hubert Cani's options

By Rick Olivares

Posted at Aug 19 2015 06:18 PM | Updated as of Aug 20 2015 02:18 AM

The Ateneo Blue Eagles got blindsided by a ruling by the eligibility committee of the UAAP that Hubert Cani cannot suit up for the blue and white for Season 78.

Cani played for National University in high school before moving to Loyola Heights for college one year ago.

The UAAP contends that the Student-Athletes Protection Act (S.B. 2226) cannot be applied retroactively hence, Cani, as well as other student-athletes, are still covered by the previous two-year residency rule that states that players who come from a UAAP high school and transfer to another UAAP college must sit it out for two years.

Sen. Pia Cayetano deplored the UAAP’s actions with a strongly worded statement last August 18: "The UAAP Board has once more displayed its arrogance and immaturity by invoking its unjust two-year residency rule against a high school student-athlete who has transferred to a different school in college. This is the very same UAAP rule that an RTC court struck down two years ago in favor of swimmer Anna Dominique 'Mikee' Bartolome. In the case of basketball player Hubert Cani, he has even served ONE YEAR of RESIDENCE already and was hoping to play this season."

"It is irrelevant that the Student-Athletes Protection Bill has not been signed by the President YET. The UAAP must respect a student-athlete's right to study and play for the school of his choice. The UAAP is not a commercial but an amateur league. The UAAP Board should stop treating student-athletes like commodities."

The Student-Athletes Protection Act (SAPA) that was authored by Cayetano and backed up by Congressmen Robbie Puno in the House of Representatives was ratified last June 10 and has been sent to Malacanang Palace for President Benigno Aquino III to formally sign into law. Even if the President of the Republic doesn’t affix his signature to the bill, after 30 days, it will still become law.

Now, I checked the SAPA and doesn’t contain any clause that frees those previously affected, hence, the UAAP’s ruling (this motion was put forward by NU’s representatives to the board).

In the meantime, this is what affected student-athletes can do.

Stand up for your rights

The residency rule is first and foremost, unconstitutional and patently illegal. It is both arbitrary and oppressive. It violates the constitutional right to the protection of his or her physical, moral, intellectual, and social well-being. It restricts freedom of choice and promotes exploitation and abuse. The residency rule is imposed for UAAP member schools to reap the rewards of their “investments."

There are a couple of laws that a student-athlete can cite.

The first is the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that no person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

A student who has graduated from a high school must be free of any obligations and choose any school he or she wishes regardless of their reasons.

The second is Republic Act 7610 that is known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act” that stipulates “the State shall intervene on behalf of the child when the parent, guardian, teacher or person having care or custody of the child fails or is unable to protect the child against abuse, exploitation and discrimination or when such acts against the child are committed by the said parent, guardian, teacher or person having care and custody of the same.”

There are reports that student-athletes who are unable to attain “glory for the school” to suddenly pay for all these miscellaneous funds that they are previously not aware of. The diplomas and transcript of records are withheld pending payments.

The two-year residency rule is one such retaliatory act to combat piracy of players. Yet, the schools that voted for this rule themselves commit piracy by raiding schools outside the UAAP.

Having said that…

You can explore your legal options

Affected student-athletes can apply for a temporary restraining order and a writ of prohibitory and mandatory injunction against the UAAP and the school that filed the “complaint."

Two years ago, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court slapped a TRO on the UAAP for infringement on the rights of Bartolome who upon graduation for UST High School matriculated at the University of the Philippines. Bartolome was initially not allowed by the UAAP to compete but the TRO allowed her to swim for UP helping the State University to a swimming championship.

The presiding judge, the Honorable Manuel B. Sta. Cruz, Jr., in his decision to award the TRO to the Bartolomes cited 553 SCRA 662 Brizuela v. Dingle in his ruling. The Canis or even Ateneo might want to look into that.

The SAPA will be passed. The UAAP has spat on the spirit of the law by preventing Cani and other student-athletes to compete on a mere technicality. It is a decision that is vindictive and tramples upon basic human rights.

Incidentally, the UAAP is 0-2 versus the courts who clearly understand that rights have been violated by unjust laws. I guess that is very clear that the league is doing something wrong.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.