Better sports facilities pushed

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports, I am saddened by the dilapidated state of the country’s iconic sports facilities.

The Philippine Institute of Sports Multi-Purpose Arena, popularly known as PhilSports Arena, has come a long way from the time it was built in 1985 to house the Philippine Basketball Association until the league moved out in 1993 due to the lack of maintenance of the venue. The last time it was renovated was in 2019, when the country hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Among PhilSports Arena’s main facilities are the Multi-purpose Arena, Swimming Center, and Football and Athletic Stadium. While the arena was greatly enjoyed as a sports facility, it also served as a temporary shelter for evacuees after Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng struck the Philippines in 2009, adding to the facility’s wear and tear.

A quick look at the PhilSports Arena and the other sports facilities nationwide should make us realize that we should invest more in rehabilitating our iconic sports facilities. As I have suggested during the budget deliberations in the Senate, prioritizing funding for sports facilities would have been better than putting flood control projects in areas with little to no population.

This concern about the support we are providing our athletes has motivated me to author and co-sponsor Republic Act No. 11470, which established the National Academy of Sports at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. In collaboration with the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Education, NAS now offers a specialized secondary education program focused on sports where students can study and train simultaneously.

I have also filed the Philippine National Games bill, which aims to provide a structure for a more comprehensive national sports program, linking grassroots sports promotion to national sports development by having a mini Olympics regularly.

Providing opportunities to our youth will help develop their potential in sports but will also help keep them away from vices such as illegal drugs. I continue to support establishing sports-related programs and infrastructure to divert the youth from the lure of addiction and criminality. This is also part of my three-pronged approach to combat illegal drugs in the Philippines – law enforcement, rehabilitation, and prevention.

Yesterday, I witnessed the Philippine ROTC Games 2023 Luzon Qualifying Leg opening ceremony held at Cavite State University – Indang Campus in Indang, Cavite. With Sen. Francis Tolentino, I encouraged our young cadets who participated in various competitions to get into sports and stay away from drugs.

I have also remained faithful to my promise to visit and help our fellow Filipinos in most parts of the country.

On 16 September, we attended the groundbreaking of a Super Health Center in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. We also visited the town of Damulog, where I inspected projects I have supported, such as a public market, road concreting project, evacuation center, solar street lights, and a multipurpose building.

Later that day, we also attended the 25th Anniversary of Public Safety Basic Recruit Course Class 1998-Alpha at Acacia Hotel in Davao City.

On 15 September, we attended a meeting of state universities and colleges leaders held in Davao City and hosted by Commission on Higher Education Chair Prospero de Vera.

The night before, we also joined leaders from the CHEd, the University of the Philippines System, and various SUCs to honor the appointment of Atty. Angelo Jimenez, a fellow Mindanaoan, as the 22nd President of the University of the Philippines. We took the opportunity to voice our commitment to elevating the standard of education nationwide.

This is also the reason why Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access To Quality Tertiary Education Act, was enacted into law during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Today, we continue to pursue this further as I co-authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1360, which aims to widen the reach of the law further.

We visited Bislig City in Surigao del Sur to participate in its 23rd Charter Day festivities. We handed out grocery packages to 32 newlywed couples during a community wedding and inaugurated the country’s 159th Malasakit Center at the Bislig District Hospital. This is the seventh Malasakit Center in the Caraga region and the 40th in Mindanao. Our team also provided direct aid, including grocery packs, to 129 patients and 191 front liners, including security guards, utilities, and hospital staff.

On 15 September, my office also attended the groundbreaking of Super Health Centers in New Washington and Malay in the province of Aklan.

Meanwhile, we continue to support livelihood programs, especially those that can help people experiencing poverty overcome crises. Through our support, the Department of Trade and Industry provides livelihood kits to qualified beneficiaries affected by calamities and teaches them how to grow their businesses for the benefit of their families.

Among those we have helped are 20 from Dipaculao, Aurora; 57 from Sanchez Mira and Abulog, Cagayan; 100 affected by the earthquake in Montevista and New Bataan, and 50 in Nabunturan in Davao de Oro; 196 in Malalag and Sulop, Davao del Sur; 20 in Mangatarem, Pangasinan; 21 victims of Typhoon Egay in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato; 132 shear line victims in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental; and 36 beneficiaries from Lutayan and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, and General Santos City.

We also continue to support the National Housing Authority’s distribution of emergency housing assistance to disaster victims so they can purchase roofing, nails, and other home repair materials. We assisted beneficiaries, including 85 fire victims in Imus City, Cavite. Meanwhile, my office helped the 65 fire victims in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

We also provided assistance to 75 TESDA graduates in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

We also distributed additional support to workers who lost their jobs, beneficiaries of the TUPAD program of the Department of Labor and Employment, including 413 in Talibon, Bohol, and 150 in Plaridel, Bulacan.

We also aided 333 poor residents in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro; and 234 in Antipolo City, Rizal.

Together, let us continue bringing government services closer to Filipinos in need – from better sports facilities more accessible healthcare services, and implementing various programs to help uplift communities affected by crises.

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