The House of Representatives has passed two related measures that set up a broader, grassroots-based national recruitment program for young and talented athletes as well as provide financial support to them and their respective sports clubs or organizations.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte hailed the bills’ passage even as he issued the statement as the country began its campaign for the 2023 edition of the Asian Games which will run until Oct. 8 in Hangzhou, China.
Villafuerte said the House recently approved on the third and final reading House Bill 8468 which provides local governments a central role in the institutionalization of a biennial Philippine National Games (PNG) program, that is envisioned to be the premier nationwide platform for identifying and training athletes who have the potential for becoming world-class athletes in international sports contests.
He said the chamber likewise passed on the third and final reading a complementary measure, HB 8495, that grants start-up funds or discount vouchers to young athletes, including those with disabilities, who cannot afford to pay the membership fees of local sports or recreation clubs; and support funds for accredited sports organizations to either sustain their grassroots sports development initiatives or improve their sports facilities.
Villafuete is one of the co-authors of both HB 8468 and HB 8495, along with fellow Camarines Sur Reps. Luis Miguel Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata.
He said HB 8468 provides that, “The PNG be held once every two years to serve as the country’s premier national sports competition, with strong support from all LGUs that are tasked to promote the development of sports in all provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays in the country.”
Under this bill, he said, the PNG shall be the venue for all National Sports Associations (NSAs) to promote their respective sports programs at the grassroots level with the necessary linkages with LGUs, and serve as the feeder program for the pool of student-athletes who shall be given priority in the grant of full high-school scholarships at the National Academy of Sports (NAS).
He said that in line with this goal, HB 8468 wants the Palarong Pambansa and other local sports contests organized by local governments to become the “feeder system” for identifying and recruiting top athletes in the various PNG sports programs.
The bill provides for the establishment of the programs’ policy-making a coordinating body composed of a seven-member PNG Board with the Executive Secretary as chairman; the Interior and Local Government Secretary as vice chairman; and the Education Secretary, Defense Secretary, and heads of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), as members.
The PSC chairman shall serve as the PNG secretary-general.
HB 8468 mandates that the sports to be played in the PNG shall be aligned with the sports events that the country participates in the Asian Games, Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Olympics, and other international sports competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
Meanwhile, HB 8495 creates three separate funds supportive of young athletes and their accredited sports clubs or organizations, Villafuerte said.
These are the:
“Get Started” Fund — an annual discount voucher of P3,000 each per beneficiary to help young athletes, including those with disabilities, pay for their membership, registration, participation, training, or general fees, including the purchase of sports equipment and uniforms.
Get Going” Fund — an annual support fund of up to P50,000 for each accredited sports or recreation clubs, sports associations, or organizations to sustain their existing projects and programs on grassroots sports development.
“Get Playing” Fund — an annual financial aid of up to P500,000 each to assist accredited local sports clubs and sports organizations in improving their sports facilities and encouraging more young athletes to become actively involved in their chosen sports activities.
Under the measure, athletes — to be eligible for the annual support fund — must be below 18 years of age and are residents of the localities where the accredited sports clubs are located.
As for the sports clubs or organizations, they can avail of financial support if they are affiliated with the NSA and accredited by the PSC or POC
Villafuerte is the lead author in the House of Republic Act (RA) 11470, which established the NSA as a ‘premier training center” offering full or partial scholarships, with special emphasis on developing the athletic skills of young Filipinos in a bid to mold them into world-class athletes.
He said that the NAS aims to maximize the use of the world-class sports complex in New Clark City (NCC) in Tarlac, where the 30th SEA Games was held in 2019.
Under this law signed by then-President Duterte in 2020, the NAS is mandated to offer a special curriculum for secondary education or high school students with subjects pertaining to physical education (PE) and sports development.