Quest for honor, glory through sports

The Philippines has just made history last week, thanks to the incredible performances of our national athletes during the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports, I stand proud with the rest of the Filipino people in saluting our athletes for a job well done!

First, winning the gold in Asian basketball after six decades is no mean feat, so this victory is not just for Gilas Pilipinas but a triumph for the entire nation. I congratulate the other gold medalists in the Asian Games, namely EJ Obiena in the men’s pole vault, Margarita Ochoa and Annie Ramirez in Jiu-jitsu, and the other athletes who won silver and bronze in various categories. Our athletes have again shown the world the kind of talent, heart, and spirit we Filipinos possess.

I was in Hangzhou, China, last week to offer my full support to our athletes competing in the Asian Games and even witnessed some of the live competitions. I assure all our competing and aspiring athletes that I am fully committed to supporting your journey and will continue to invest in your development.

Aside from international competitions, I am also pushing for grassroots sports development to help young athletes with potential so that they, too, can compete not just in national competitions but also in the world arena. More importantly, promoting sports will help mold our youth into productive citizens and keep them away from vices like illegal drugs. As I have always said, “Get into sports, stay away from drugs, and keep healthy and fit!”

As part of these efforts, we have championed the enactment into law of Republic Act 11470, which I authored and co-sponsored, and established the National Academy of Sports in New Clark City, Tarlac. NAS will provide quality education and sports to young people with the potential to become world-class athletes.

I have also filed Senate Bill No. 423, or the Philippine National Games Act, to institutionalize a national platform for athletes, especially the youth, to showcase their talents once this measure is enacted into law.

As vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, I have consistently advocated for increased funding for sports programs. In fact, during last year’s budget deliberations, the proposed budget for the Philippine Sports Commission this year was only more or less P200 million. As sponsor of their budget and with the support of fellow legislators led by our Finance Committee Chair Sonny Angara, we pushed for an additional P1 billion. This move paved the way for financial support for athletes participating in international competitions, including the current Asian Games in China, and for grassroots sports development programs.

Meanwhile, we continue our mission to bring government services closer to various sectors, especially those facing different challenges. As your senator, I will do my best to help Filipinos in their time of need.

As we celebrate our athletes’ victories, let us continue to provide them the kind of public service they deserve by ensuring enough government support for their training, facilities, and other endeavors.

More importantly, may their achievements inspire all Filipinos that our unity as a nation can uplift the lives of our people toward a better and brighter future.

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