The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure primarily authored by Deputy Speaker Roberto V. Puno, which aims to prevent the commercialization of student-athletes by regulating the benefits and incentives they receive and shielding them from unfair residency rules.
“The substitute measure, House Bill 5115, is designed to preserve and protect the amateur status of student-athletes,” said Puno, the chairman of the National Unity Party (NUP).
Puno filed the original bill protecting student-athletes, HB 4581, which was later adopted and sponsored by members of the House committee on youth and sports development chaired by Rep. Anthony del Rosario. The other sponsors of the measure were Representatives Lino Cayetano, Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr., Eric Olivarez, Rodrigo Abellanosa, Monique Lagdameo and Juan Johnny Revilla.
Puno noted that the bill insulates student-athletes from any form of penalty or punishment when they decide to transfer to another school, such as compelling them to return the tuition, any other fees and non-monetary benefits that were granted to them.
Section 4 of HB 5115 also bars schools from refusing to, or delaying the, release of grades, school records, clearances and transfer eligibility of student athletes transferring to another school, or giving them incomplete grades in subjects where they are exempted by virtue of being student-athletes.
The bill also prohibits schools from imposing residency requirements on student-athletes who is a high school graduate enrolling in a college or university. Residency refers to a given period that a student-athlete should stay in a school before he or she could be allowed to represent it in an athletic competition.
“In the case of a high school student-athlete transferring from one high school to another, or a tertiary student-athlete transferring from one college or university to another, a maximum of one (1) year residency may be imposed by an athletic association before a student-athlete could participate and represent a school in any athletic competition,” HB 5115 states.
These residency rules shall also apply to Filipino student-athletes from other countries enrolling in a school in the Philippines.
In terms of incentives, the measure allows the grant to student-athletes of the following “reasonable benefits”: free tuition and miscellaneous fees, books and other learning materials, full board and lodging, school and athletic uniforms, supplies and paraphernalia, regular monthly allowance, medical examinations and consultations, emergency medical services, and life and medical insurance.
Schools and other interested parties are barred from offering student-athletes other incentives beyond what is allowed under the bill.
Athletic associations or schools shall be held liable “under relevant laws, or rules and regulations” for any violation of the proposed law committed by “its officials, athletic directors, coaches, member of the coaching staff, administrators, alumni, or their representatives, who directly or indirectly participated in or who have knowingly permitted or failed to prevent such violations, without prejudice to any direct liability” by them.
A similar bill authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano was earlier approved by the Senate on third and final reading.