MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Senator Pia Cayetano announced on Wednesday that the measure seeking to protect Filipino student-athletes has been ratified by the Philippine Congress, and thus the "unjust" residency rules imposed by athletic associations are now invalid.
"Today Congress ratified my student-athlete's bill on residency and commercialization," Cayetano tweeted on Wednesday.
"School athletic associations are now prohibited from imposing a residency rule on high school graduates transferring to a different school in college," she added.
Congress ratified Senate Bill No. 2226 in consolidation with House Bill. No. 5115, or "An Act Protecting the Amateur Nature of Student-Athletes in the Philippines by Regulating the Residency Requirements and Prohibiting the Commercialization of Student-Athletes."
"With the approval by the Senate and the House of the bicameral version of the Student-Athletes Protection Bull, the unjust practice of residency rules for high school students going to a different college will be a thing of the past," Cayetano said in a statement.
"In past years, school sports associations have imposed residency rules on student-athletes that unfairly restricted their choice of school and their growth as athletes," she added.
The UAAP had famously instituted a more stringent residency rule in 2013, after Far Eastern University-Diliman star Jerie Pingoy chose to transfer to Ateneo de Manila University for college.
The new residency rule required student-athletes transferring from one UAAP high school to another UAAP university for college to undergo a two-year residency period before being allowed to play.
The new requirement became popularly known as "The Pingoy Rule."
Cayetano's bill however puts an end to the controversial measure.
UAAP to comply
University of the Philippines Dean Ronnie Dizer, whose university is set to host the new UAAP season, said the UAAP Board will discuss the rule when they meet on June 17, but in all likelihood, the association will abide by the law.
"What can we say but to abide by the national law?" Dizer told ABS-CBNnews.com on Thursday. "Kung na-ratify na sa Congress, eh mandate na ng batas and we have to abide by it."
"Kung batas na 'yan, susunod ang UAAP d'yan," he added.
Dizer also admitted that the UAAP Board was already anticipating that the bill will be passed.
"Iniisip na namin 'yun… so tapos na 'yun," said Dizer, adding that they were just waiting for the law to be implemented.
"No organization is higher than the government office… 'yun naman talaga 'yun. Susunod talaga tayo," he added.
'Student-athletes must be protected'
In a statement, Cayetano said school athletic associations play a huge role in developing the skills, characters, and potential of the youth through competitive sports, and that she respects those associations' right to self-regulation.
"However, when interest groups within these associations refuse to act and address the concerns of student-athletes, then the government needs to step in to regulate their actions to ensure that the rights of the vulnerable are protected," she added.
"In this case, it is the student-athletes whom we must protect from being commodified and subjected to unethical practices of some schools and organizations."
Regarding the residency of student-athletes, the bill maintains that athletic associations "shall not impose residency requirements on a student-athlete who is a high school graduate enrolling in a college or university."
"No residency requirement on a high school student-athlete transferring from one high school to another high school; provided that to address the issue of piracy, a maximum of one year residency may be imposed by an athletic association on a high school student-athlete who transfers from one member school to another," it also said.
"For a tertiary student-athlete, a maximum of one year residency may be imposed by an athletic association before a student-athlete could participate and represent a school in any athletic competition."
The bill affects not only the UAAP but also the NCAA and other collegiate sports associations such as the CESAFI and the NAASCU.
The bill also seeks to regulate the benefits and incentives that a school may grant a student-athlete.
"Who doesn't love college sports and seeing their team win?" Cayetano noted. "We all do."
"But let's not forget that these athletes are first and foremost, students. Thus, their rights as a student and an amateur athlete must be protected and respected."