20 September 2013, 9:55 p.m. – FOUR UNIVERSITIES including UST boycotted the women’s swimming competition of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) on Thursday, in protest against a court order barring the league from enforcing its residency rules.
The surprise move came after former UST Female Tigershark Mikee Bartolome secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the UAAP’s two-year residency requirement that allowed her to be included in the swimming lineup of her new school, the University of the Philippines (UP).
“Yes, the [UST] senior women’s team will no longer compete,” head coach Cyrus Alcantara told the Varsitarian in a phone interview.
De La Salle University, Adamson University, and the University of the East joined UST in the protest.
The UAAP board extended its residency rule to two years from one year last March to curb athletic piracy. But schools were given the option to grant release papers to athletes who want to transfer to another UAAP school.
Bartolome, who switched to UP this year after graduating from UST High School, sued UST and the UAAP board last month after failing to get her release papers from UST. The 17-year-old had the backing of Sen. Pia Cayetano.
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 226 first issued a TRO against the two-year rule last Sept. 3, but extended it to cover the old one-year rule last Sept. 18. The UAAP argued that the TRO had effectively reinstated the original one-year residency requirement.
In a statement, the UAAP board said it did not instigate the boycott and that it was the schools’ decision, “perhaps as a sign of personal indignation or protest.”
But removing the one-year rule was unfair, the UAAP board said.
“The court order was specific on the ‘two-year’ rule which was imposed only this Season 76, and not on the previously accepted ‘one-year’ rule. It would be worse for the UAAP if it also lifts the long accepted one-year rule. In Bartolome’s case, she, like all other freshman transferees before her, must undergo the one-year residency before she could swim for UP. Bartolome’s elder sister served a one-year residency before she could eventually compete for the Fighting Maroons,” the UAAP statement said.
Fr. Ermito de Sagon, O.P., director of the UST Institute of Physical Education and Athletics, said the decision to boycott the swimming competition “came from many people,” but the idea of a protest came from him.
“In fact, I brought out the idea. They (the team) consulted me because they were concerned over scholarships and they thought I’d get mad over their non-participation,” he said. “The decision came from many people. We were looking for a way to show that we are against the TRO but not violate it. The point was to convince other schools to not participate as well in order to nullify the results, as it can be considered failure of competition.”
De Sagon also explained the reason for pulling out the entire women’s team. “It turns out there’s a rule that if you don’t participate, for example, in an event in the morning, you will no longer be allowed to participate in the events for the rest of the day,” he said.
A team member told the Varsitarian the Female Tigersharks had initially decided to back out of Bartolome’s events: the 200-meter, 100-meter, and 50-meter backstroke. Later on, they decided not to participate in all women’s events.
Senator Cayetano, known for her opposition to the residency rule, condemned the boycott on Twitter.
“I condemn the actions of all UAAP board members and officials who orchestrated the swim meet boycott. Shame on [you],” she said on her Twitter account. Ralph Joshua D.R. Hernandez