Senate Bill No. 1086/ Committee Report No. 12
An Act Creating and Establishing the Philippine High School for Sports and Providing Funds Therefor
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines
Delivered by Hon. Win Gatchalian, Senator of the Republic:
Mr. President, esteemed peers in the Senate, good afternoon to you all.
Mr. President, the most universally understood language is not English, French, or Chinese. It is sport. Sport is the international lingua franca of competition, cooperation, and mutual respect. It is a timeless source of national pride and accomplishment. For the youth, it is a potent shaper of character. For everyone, it is a powerful vehicle for improving health and well-being.
Filipinos love sports, Mr. President. At community basketball courts in barangays across the country, we can find young men and women playing a casual game or going all-out in a community tournament as they pursue their hoops dreams. At empty lots and grassy fields, we can find young ones kicking around a soccer ball.
And whenever our world champion colleague, Pambansang Kamao Senator Manny Pacquiao has a fight, Metro Manila practically becomes a ghost town as everyone crowds in front of their TV screens to watch him take down his opponents. In fact, Mr. President, I think one of the best ways to solve the traffic crisis in Metro Manila would be to schedule a Manny Pacquiao fight on every weekday.
Mr. President, despite our collective love for sports, sometimes it can feel like sports does not love us back. Despite the valiant efforts of our Gilas Pilipinas squad, the Philippines finished in last place as the recently concluded 2019 FIBA World Cup. Since the Philippines began participating in the Summer Olympic Games in 1924, our athletes have won only 10 medals – and not a single gold medal. Of the 13 Philippine athletes to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, the impressive silver medal finish of Hidilyn Diaz in Women’s Weightlifting was our country’s lone spot on the podium in any event.
So, who or what is to blame for the lackluster performance of our athletes on the national stage? Certainly, not the athletes themselves. Our athletes deserve nothing but the highest respect and admiration of the Filipino people for representing our country with pride and honor.
The problem, however, is that our athletes deserve more than just respect and admiration from the government. They deserve the same type of financial, infrastructural, and policy support from the government that other countries bestow upon their athletes. Unfortunately, the Philippines has often failed to do this. While many foreign governments spend tens of billions of pesos in support of their elite athletes, so far only a measly P207.7 million has been allocated to the Philippine Sports Commission in the proposed 2020 budget. This is just one example of how we have come up short in giving our athletes the support they deserve.
In this context, Mr. President, I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1086, otherwise known as the “Philippine High School for Sports Act of 2019”, because it signifies that change is coming to the realm of Philippine sports.
Mr. President, this measure, principally authored by Senator Bong Go, Senator Sonny Angara, Senator Pia Cayetano, and yours truly, seeks to train and develop future generations of world champion Philippine athletes. It will establish a dedicated national high school offering a secondary course with special emphasis on developing the athletic skills of the students through subjects pertaining to physical education and sports development. Ultimately, the end in view of this legislation is to unleash the potential of young Filipinos who have shown early potential of excelling in sports for a sports-related career.
The Philippine High School for Sports is envisioned to be a world-class educational and athletics facility to be constructed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. PHSS will be under the supervision of the Department of Education, which has already expressed its unequivocal support for the establishment of the school. As such, the Board of Trustees of PHSS will be chaired by the Secretary of Education. The Chairperson of the Philippine Sports Commission will serve as Vice Chair, and the following as members of the Board: the Director of the PHSS; one representative each from the House of Representatives and the Senate; the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC); and, three (3) representatives from different POC-accredited national sports associations to be nominated by their respective sports associations and appointed by the Chairperson of the Board.
Meanwhile, an Executive Council consisting of the PHSS Director, the Assistant Director, the heads of departments of PHSS, and such other ranking faculty members or officials of the PHSS, as may be determined by the Board, shall be constituted to screen and select the students subject for admission, select students who shall be recipients of scholarships, stipends and other allowances, and develop the school curriculum and rules of discipline of the institution.
To supplement the general funding of the school undertaken by the government through the General Appropriations Act, the bill also establishes the Sports High School Fund. All income and monetary donations derived by PHSS shall be retained by the school in said fund and shall be expended as authorized by the Board exclusively to fund the maintenance and programs of PHSS.
All in all, Mr. President, I firmly believe that the establishment of the Philippine High School for Sports is the crucial first step toward achieving Philippine excellence in international athletics and providing our athletes with the support that they deserve as our representatives on the international stage. Noting for the record that passage of this bill was one of the legislative priorities outlined by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 2019 State of the Nation Address, I respectfully join Senators Go, Angara, and Cayetano in advocating for the swift approval of this measure by this esteemed chamber.
Thank you, Mr. President.