Sen. Pia Cayetano criticized the Commission on Higher Education Thursday for encouraging the resumption of training for student-athletes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

students - CHED hit for encouraging resumption of training for student-athletes

Cayetano said she is shocked to hear CHED prioritize the reopening of training schools for student-athletes without considering the risk of having these students contract the dreaded disease.

“I have to say that I am shocked na sa dinami-dami ng mga problema natin ngayong panahon ng COVID-19 at para sa edukasyon ng mga kabataan, talaga namang inuna pa ng CHED ang presscon para sa resumption ng training ng mga student-athletes (With all the problems we have right now during a COVID-19 and for the education of children, CHED had the gall to announce in a press conference the resumption of training for student-athletes),” Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano, an athlete herself and a mom to two student-athletes, pointed out that even the bubble inside the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Philippine Football League (PFL) has shown discouraging developments after some players tested positive for COVID-19.

“Talaga namang hindi mo pa masasabing fool-proof o masisigurado ang safety ng mga atleta kahit mahigpit ka sa safety protocols (We really cannot say we already have fool-proof mechanisms or ensure that athletes are safe even if you impose stricter safety protocols),” she said.

“Professional leagues na po ang mga ‘yan, so what more itong para sa ating mga young athletes, student-athletes, na wala naman tayong assurance na may pondo tayong maibubuhos para sa kanilang safety? (These are professional leagues, so what more our young athletes, student athletes, when we do not even have the assurance we have the funds to ensure their safety)?” Cayetano added.

Apart from student-athletes, the senator pointed out the government does not even have safety mechanisms for coaches, trainers, and even referees.

“Eh ‘yung pagkain nga lang at vitamins para sa kalusugan ng student-athletes, at pagpapagaling sa kanilang mga injury ay hindi nga naaasikaso nang maayos. Tapos ngayong panahon ng COVID-19, ito ang inuuna niyo? Medyo shocked lang po talaga ako (They haven’t even thought of providing students with vitamins and food and the medical attention they need when they suffer injury. And they had to prioritize this during a COVID-19 pandemic? I am really shocked),” the lawmaker stressed.

Cayetano said CHED should instead look for ways on how to provide quality education to student-athletes without compromising their safety and health especially during this time of a pandemic.

She said CHED should observe the policies under the Student-Athletes Protection Act which was enacted into law to “protect and promote the rights of the student-athlete, who is first and foremost a student.”

“I have nothing against training. I am sure there are legislators with similar qualifications like me who also became student-athletes too, who have children who are student-athletes, and currently helped passed laws to protect student athletes,” she pointed out.

“May I challenge all of these people to weigh in on this issue. Let us give the best for our student-athletes. But remember they are students first. So as we consider their well-being, the importance of physical activity and training for them – that (aspect) is equally important for all the students,” she said.

“So ‘yun ang panawagan ko sa (My call for) CHED: Please set your priorities right.” 

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