Senator and Senate Sports Committee Chair Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law Republic Act 11470, seeking to establish the National Academy of Sports, in a simple ceremony in Davao City on Tuesday, June 9.
The bicameral conference committee report of this measure, based on Senate Bill No. 1086 and House Bill No. 6312, was ratified by the Senate last May 11, followed by the House of Representatives last May 19. Prior to this 18th Congress, similar measures have been pending in the legislature for almost a decade already.
“I firmly believe that with this law, we will be able to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of sports development,” Go, one of the principal authors, said.
Go added that with the establishment of the NAS in very close proximity to world-class facilities in New Clark City, student-athletes can enjoy a level of training which is at par with the best in the world and at the same time be given quality education.
“It is about time that we establish a learning institution focused on sports. Ngayon na magkakaroon na ng National Academy of Sports, sabay nang mabibigyan ang mga kabataang atleta ng pagkakataon na mag-training at makapag-aral sa isang world-class na pasilidad at eskwelahan,” Go said.
On his first month as a Senator, Go filed Senate Bill No. 397 that sought to establish a high school for sports. It was one of his priority bills filed in the present 18th Congress and was also mentioned by President Duterte in his last State of the Nation Address as part of the priority legislative agenda of the administration.
“As the Chairman of the Committee on Sports, I would like to express my gratitude to my fellow legislators for coming together in support of this measure for the benefit of our youth and for the benefit of Philippine sports,” he said.
Go also emphasized that the support of President Duterte and his vision of providing the youth with better opportunities to develop into productive citizens of society through sports were crucial in the passage of the said measure.
“Malaki rin ang pasasalamat natin kay Pangulong Duterte sa pag-apruba niya sa panukalang ito. Isang dekada ang hinintay natin bago naisabatas ito,” he said.
“Sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng sapat at maayos na mga programa para sa ating mga kabataan na makapag-aral ng mabuti at magabayan sila sa kanilang mga talento tulad sa sports, mas mabibigyan sila ng oportunidad na magtagumpay sa buhay at mailayo sa masasamang bisyo tulad ng iligal na droga,” he explained further.
Go also expressed his gratitude to government agencies for supporting the legislature during the deliberations of the proposed measure and for affirming their commitment to help realize this dream for aspiring athletes.
“I also would like to thank the Philippines Sports Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for their commitment that allowed us to hit the ground running once this measure is signed by President Duterte,” Go acknowledged in a speech he delivered during a Senate session last month.
The NAS will develop and implement a secondary education program, integrated with a special curriculum on sports, targeting young Filipinos with the talent and desire to develop further their sporting skills. Full scholarship will be offered to qualified natural-born secondary school students.
Among others, the law requires that the main campus of the NAS shall be established at the existing New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac. It shall be equipped with the necessary sports facilities, housing, and other amenities according to current international standards. School buildings with sufficient number of classrooms and facilities shall also be constructed at the complex.
The academy will be attached to DepEd, in close coordination with the PSC, tasked to develop the athletic skills and talents of students in world-class facilities at par with international standards.
In addition to honing the students, the board of the academy will also be allowed to approve the hiring of licensed foreign coaches, trainers and consultants duly certified as necessary by PSC. This is to ensure the international competitiveness of the students.
The consolidated Senate and House bills were principally authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Rep. Roman Romulo. Other principal authors in the Senate, aside from Go, include Senators Sonny Angara and Pia Cayetano. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also authored the House version, together with others who filed similar measures, such as Representatives Victor Yap, Wilfrido Mark Enverga, Mikee Romero, Roberto Puno, Yedda Marie Romualdez, Luis Ray Villafuerte, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Henry Villarica, Alyssa Sheena Tan, Jose Enrique Garcia, Joy Myra Tambunting, Lord Allan Jay Velasco, Paolo Duterte, Lani Cayetano, Abraham Tolentino and Eric Martinez.
Other legislators from both Houses of Congress also signified their intent to become co-authors of the said measure.
Even before he became a Senator, Go always believed that promoting sports can be an effective means for Filipinos to stay away from illegal drugs and criminality.
“Naniniwala ako na epektibong paraan ang sports upang mailayo natin ang mga kabataan sa iligal na droga, kriminalidad at katiwalian. Layunin ko na mabigyan ang ating mga kabataan ng maayos na edukasyon para magkaroon ng marangal at maayos na pamumuhay sa kanilang pagtanda,” he repeatedly said.
Late last year, the Philippines hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games, emerging as the over-all champion when Team Pilipinas captured a total of 149 gold medals.
“Maganda ang performance natin noong nakaraang SEA Games pero kailangan nating maibalik ang pagiging sports powerhouse ng Pilipinas sa Asya. Sa tulong ng NAS, mas mapapalakas natin ang ating sports development programs upang matulungan ang ating mga atleta na magtagumpay sa kanilang larangan at makakapagbigay ng dagdag karangalan sa ating bansa,” Go said.
The NAS shall be geared towards the early recognition and development of highly talented and exceptionally gifted students and those who have demonstrated the potential of excelling in the field of sports.
“With this landmark measure, the Philippines can produce more world-class Filipino athletes who are well-educated and well-rounded, with a strong sense of patriotism and love of country,” Go stressed.
In his first year in office as a Senator, four of Go’s priority bills have already been enacted into law. Prior to the NAS Act, other laws he authored include Republic Act 11462 (Postponing the May 2020 Barangay and SK Elections), RA 11463 (Malasakit Centers Act), and RA 11466 (Salary Standardization Act).