Press Release
December 13, 2023

Bong Go sponsors measure institutionalizing the Philippine National Games

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, on Wednesday, December 13, pushed for the institutionalization of the Philippine National Games (PNG) and underscored the critical role of sports in national development.

In his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2514 right before the Senate goes on break, Go reminded his colleagues of the constitutional basis for sports development in the Philippines.

"Article 14, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the State to promote physical education and encourage sports programs," he stated, underscoring the government's responsibility to foster "self-discipline, teamwork, and excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry."

Go, chairperson of the Committee on Sports as well as the Committee on Health and Demography, highlighted the interconnectivity of sports, health, and national well-being. He asserted, "Our efforts to promote sports and physical fitness are always anchored on our mission to make our citizens healthy and fit."

He also linked sports promotion to the broader national agenda, including the campaign against illegal drugs, remarking, "Patuloy ang ating pag-engganyo sa mga kabataan to get into sports and stay away from drugs."

Addressing the need for grassroots sports development, Go highlighted the critical role of local programs in identifying and nurturing athletic talent. He stressed the importance of a "genuine comprehensive national grassroots sports program" as the country's premier sports competition and a vital platform for a nationwide talent search.

"Usually po, dito nakikita sa grassroots ang mga potential athletes natin," he noted, pointing out the potential of such grassroots programs in bringing forth national and international sports champions.

In his sponsorship speech, Go also provided historical context to the discussion, referencing a pivotal moment in the nation's sports history. "Former president Fidel Ramos issued Executive Order (EO) 163 in 1994, which declared the Philippine National Games as the centerpiece program of the government's national physical fitness and sports development effort," he recounted.

This EO sets the stage for the current discussion on enhancing PNG's role and impact. Go lamented the "perennial lack of funding in grassroots sports development, including the conduct of Philippine National Games," describing it as a significant impediment to achieving the objectives set out in the EO.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Go further shared insights into preparing the national budget every year, underscoring the challenges faced in securing adequate funds for sports development.

"Taon-taon, maliit ang natatanggap na budget ng sports sa National Expenditure Program o NEP. Every year, tayo pa po ang nagdadagdag ng budget," he emphasized, pointing out the consistent need for augmenting the sports budget.

"Every year, tayo pa po ang nagdadagdag ng budget. In fact, under the 2024 NEP, only P174 million was approved by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) for PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) or a meager 0.004% of the P5.768 trillion national budget," said Go.

"Bagamat may Executive Order para sa PNG at may programa na para dito ang PSC, hindi pa rin ito sinasama sa NEP at tayo pa ang laging nagdaragdag ng pondo para dito. Mr. President, we want to address this through our proposed measure," he added.

In a bid to address these challenges, Go presented this legislative solution. "It is my honor, Mr. President, to present to you and sponsor, SBN 2514 under Committee Report No. 187, which will institutionalize the Philippine National Games," he announced.

The bill, also authored by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Majority Floor Leader Senator Joel Villanueva, aims to provide a more structured and comprehensive approach to national sports programming.

The proposed bill, as outlined by Go, seeks to create a more integrated and inclusive national sports program.

"The PNG will harness the vast potentials of Filipinos in discovering and developing potential athletes in various sports who could form part of our national pool of athletes," he explained.

The bill also emphasizes the inclusion of para-athletes and a commitment to hold the Games biennially, ensuring wide participation from athletes across the country.

Go stressed the importance of local government units (LGUs) in the success of the PNG. He envisioned a collaborative framework where provinces, in partnership with cities and municipalities, actively participate in forming sports delegations.

"Provinces, in collaboration with component cities and municipalities under their jurisdiction, may form and send their delegations to the qualifying competitions," he stated, highlighting the role of LGUs in nurturing local talent and contributing to the national sports landscape.

The senator also highlighted the role of the PNG Coordinating Committee, a body responsible for the strategic planning and execution of the Games. Chaired by the PSC and co-chaired by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, this committee would "formulate plans, policies, and guidelines that shall govern the conduct of the PNG," including selecting host cities and scheduling events. This committee is envisioned to ensure the effective and efficient management of the Games.

A critical component of Go's proposal is the inclusion of an appropriations provision in the bill, ensuring that "the amount necessary for the implementation of the PNG shall be included in the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission in the annual General Appropriations Acts."

This move, he hoped, would guarantee government support for the Games at the budgetary level, avoiding reliance on ad hoc funding measures.

In his concluding remarks, Go appealed for support from his fellow legislators, stressing the importance of this measure for the nation's youth and sports future.

"Maganda po na maisabatas na ito para magkaroon ng kompetisyon na magiging plataporma ng aspiring national athletes at masiguro natin ang pagbibigay ng priority ng gobyerno sa kompetisyon na ito," he concluded, emphasizing the bill's potential to strengthen grassroots sports and create opportunities for young athletes.

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