MANILA, Philippines – With its controversial two-year residency rule getting flak and criticism, the UAAP said it is considering a "zero residency" rule for high school athletes transferring to a different member school for college.
"Ultimately, plano din naman na wala ng residency," UAAP Season 77 secretary treasurer Rod Roque, from host school University of the East (UE), told ABS-CBNnews.com in an interview on Wednesday.
"So zero residency, from high school to college, UAAP school to UAAP school, wala na ding residency," he elaborated. "Yun din ang gusto namin, wala na ding residency."
The current UAAP residency school requires an athlete from a UAAP high school to sit out two years if he chooses to transfer to a different UAAP school for college. It became known as the "Pingoy Rule," as one of the most popular athletes affected was Jerie Pingoy, who starred for Far Eastern University in high school but transferred to Ateneo de Manila for his college education.
Pingoy is entering the second year of his residency period and will likely suit up for the Blue Eagles next season.
Roque said he understands the plight of the athletes who have been affected by the residency requirements, but pleads for patience from the fans and supporters of the UAAP teams.
"Hindi naman kami heartless sa UAAP," Roque said. "Nakikita naman namin 'yang problema na 'yan."
"What we want is 'yung ma-promulgate muna namin 'yung mga rule, na mag-take effect naman muna," he said. "Kasi, we proposed the rule, tapos it will not take effect at all? So ang gusto lang namin, magamit muna ‘yung rule, and then ultimately, 'yun din naman ang thrust namin – zero residency."
Roque asked that the UAAP be given time to first implement the rule they created, see its impact, and then, start re-thinking and revising.
"Sabi namin, what we want is for the promulgated law namin to take into effect muna, and then i-revise ulit, revisit, amend," said Roque, noting that the two-year residency rule came into effect only last year.
"Ang nangyayari dito, hindi pa nai-implement, ang dami ng opposition. Ang dami ng galit, ang dami ng nagku-curse sa amin," he laments. "Let us see what the result is muna."
But another UAAP board member, Em Fernandez of the Ateneo de Manila University, pointed out that the league’s residency rules may soon become moot if the Student-Athletes Protection Act that was proposed by Senator Pia Cayetano passes into law.
Senate Bill No. 2226 was approved by the Senate in its third and final reading earlier this month. The bill seeks to regulate the policies governing the eligibility status of student-athletes in inter-school competitions, including the UAAP.
"Dati naman, wala eh. Before naman wala talagang (residency)," Fernandez told ABS-CBNnews.com. "But sa akin, moot na 'yung kasi if the law comes into place, then the UAAP has no choice."
The Student-Athletes Protection Act 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," while college athletes who transfer from one college/university to another should only be required to undergo a maximum of a one-year residency period.