The Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture recently tackled Senator Bong Go’s filed Senate Bill No. 397, which seeks to establish the National Academy of Sports for High School (NASHS) in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, with an initial proposed funding of P150 million.

Go said during the hearing that preparations for the NASHS are underway as the proposed measure gathers more support from colleagues in both legislative and executive branches of government.

The legislator said he has made initial consultations with key government agencies, such as the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Education (DepEd) for the preparations of the establishment of the NASHS.

“Nagkausap na po kami initially, with BCDA, with PSC, and with the DBM, with DepEd, including Secretary Leonor Briones. Medyo kumpleto na tayo,” the lawmaker said, addressing in particular Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, which conducted the hearing jointly with the Committees on Finance; Sports; and Ways and Means.

Go then asked his fellow senators for the immediate passage of the proposed law given the readiness of the executive branch to implement the proposal.

“Now is the time to push for the immediate passage of the bill.”

“Sana, Mr. Chair, mapabilis with your help. Medyo plantsado na tayo sa lahat ng mga iba’t ibang ahensiya po,” he said. “Full support naman sila. Hopefully, sana this year maipasa po natin ito.”

Senator Win Gatchalian responded positively to Go. Gatchalian said that “now is the time to push for the immediate passage” of the bill.

Gatchalian also expressed his appreciation for Go’s efforts. “Wala pa pong batas, may pondo na ho, courtesy of (the efforts of) Senator Bong Go. Hindi lang may pondo, meron pang facility, courtesy of Vivencio Dizon (president and CEO) of BCDA.”

Go shared that he was prompted to file the bill due to the “undying support and love” of Filipinos for sports. “It is only fitting that our people be rewarded with programs that would ensure the continued growth of our athletes who compete in both international and local competitions,” he said.

Go added that the NASHS aims to “educate students who have shown their early potential to excel in sports for a sports-related career, even while undergoing quality secondary education.”

The school will be built in Phase 1A site of the New Clark City Government Administrative Center (NGAC), which includes a 20,000-seater athletics stadium, a 2,000-seater aquatics center, and an Athletes’ Village, surrounded by a 1.4-kilometer river park development with bikeways and jogging paths.

SB No. 397 also “mandates the grant of scholarships, stipends and such other allowances to deserving students.” 

Scholarships may be in full or partial, and paying students may also be accepted, according to the rules that the Board of Trustees to be created may promulgate.

Go wants to ensure that athletes from the provinces will have proper and easy access to the NASHS. He asked PSC Chair William “Butch” Ramirez how it may be done. Ramirez answered that it is “really important” to have regional sports training centers and the PSC is making use of a “smart talent identification program.”

Representatives from DepEd, BCDA and DBM also expressed their support for the proposed school and confirmed Go’s statements that preparations are underway.

After the initial hearing, the next phase for the proposal is the creation of the Technical Working Group. Deped, DBM and PSC are expected to submit a budget proposal for the building that BCDA made a commitment to build.

“Sports is truly an effective avenue to instill among the youth essential characteristics.”

DepEd will also submit a curriculum proposal, and the Commission on Audit will submit a position paper on trust fund provisions. Gatchalian asked for a roll-out plan to ensure that the implementation of the law would not have any problems once it passes through legislation.

In his statement, Go also shared that the establishment of the school is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, quoting the President as saying that “sports is truly an effective avenue to instill among the youth essential characteristics.”

“By integrating secondary education with a program focused on sports, we not only keep our youth away from the evils of dangerous drugs and criminality, we also create a better future for them, whether it be in the field of sports or other important fields,” he said.

“Magtulungan tayo para mabigyan ng mas magandang kinabukasan ang kabataan. Tuloy-tuloy po ang pagbabago,” Go concluded.

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