MANILA, Philippines — Another student-athlete lodged a formal complaint against the UAAP’s controversial two-year residency rule.
Swimmer Mikee Bartolome, a freshman in University of the Philippines, sought the court’s help on Thursday to allow her to compete for the Maroons in the UAAP season 76 swimming tournament this September.
The 17-year-old Bartolome, represented by her father Vic, first sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the enforcement of the two-year residency rule, a permanent injunction against the regulation, and another against University of Sto. Tomas, Bartolome’s former school, for refusing to release her.
“We still love UST. They didn’t do anything wrong to us. We owe them. But I hope they don’t impede the passion and dream of the child, not to take away her freedom of choice. I’m not asking for money, just for my daughter to compete,” Vic Bartolome told reporters Friday.
The Bartolomes appeared in a press conference on Friday at Adarna Restaurant in Quezon City, along with Senator Pia Cayetano, a staunch critic of the residency rule who in April even launched a Senate inquiry into the regulation.
From a mandatory two-year residency for transferees from a UAAP school to another, the league softened its stance by adding a release clause, which left the school with the ultimate prerogative to let the players go or not.
Bartolome, who bagged countless of medals wearing UST’s colors in the juniors swimming competitions, “after exhausting all efforts” failed to get a release from UST, which would’ve allowed her to play this year.
In the complaint filed before the Quezon City regional trial court Branch 226, the plaintiff stressed her reasons to enrol in another school in college.
The Bartolomes reside inside the campus of the university located in Diliman, Quezon City, and Vic, a former PBA referee, is a member of the UP basketball team while Bartolome’s older sister is part of the UP swimming team.
The complaint also said that since Bartolome was still serving her residency, she could not be granted scholarship by the university.
“UP is my dream school. If they offered, I’d grab the opportunity,” said Bartolome, who said she has been training in case the TRO would be granted.
The Bartolomes are hoping that the court makes its decision before the final deliberations for the UAAP swimming roster on September 4. The competition is from September 19-22.
Cayetano, who assisted the Bartolomes in the case, said that there was a good chance they would get a decision from the court by next week. The hearing is scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m.
The senator, though, stressed that she did not have a role in the filing of the case and was only there to support the Bartolomes who came to her for help.
“If 99 percent of the athletes will be released, I will fight for the 1 percent of students who will not be released,” said Cayetano. “What did Mikee do wrong? She has so much talent but she cannot play and carry the color of the school that she goes to.”
Like what she had said in April, Cayetano reiterated that the rule was against the “human right to academic freedom, to choose the school they want to go to.”
Earlier this August, UPIS’ Jozhua General sought a TRO against his disqualification from the UAAP juniors’ basketball division ruled by the UAAP.