Press Release
June 19, 2015


Senator Sonny Angara has called for a quick diagnostics of the country's disappointing 131-medal haul in the recently concluded 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore wherein the Philippines, a former sports powerhouse, placed a dismal sixth.

"We improved a notch from our previous ranking but placing sixth should not make us happy. We should aim higher. As a sports-loving nation, we should build on our showing in the SEA Games," said Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on games, amusement and sports.

The senator lauded the Philippine delegation's top performers, record-setters and consistent medal winners who managed to bag 29 gold, 36 silver and 66 bronze medals.

Among the country's most lucrative events were boxing, athletics, billiards, softball, rugby, track and field, and basketball.

He, however, lamented the country's low points in the competition especially swimming where the Philippines failed to win a single gold and where the poor showing of Filipino divers became viral on social media.

"It's devastating that even the head of the Philippine Aquatic Sports Association admitted that he was not surprised by the poor performance of our divers. We recognize that sports development in the country has been neglected for the past years given the national shortage of public sports centers.

"If you count the public swimming pools, there are less than 100 nationally, or a ratio of one for every one million," he said.

Aware of this, Angara has recently sponsored five bills establishing sports academies and training centers in Misamis Occidental, Davao del Norte, Siargao Island, Cavite and Cebu, which the Senate subsequently approved last week.

"I believe establishing sports academies like these will jumpstart grassroots sports development all over the country. With these facilities, many young athletes could adequately prepare for a genuine career in sports, and hone their skills for local and international competitions," he said.

Angara is also batting for the establishment of a Philippine Amateur Sports Training Center so that the 800 athletes and 300 coaches who carry our flag will have a well-equipped home and training facilities at par with international standards.

"Other countries have built their own national stadiums because they serve a civic purpose and as a matter of national pride. Singapore, a tiny nation, overtook us because it makes sports facilities a basic part of every housing or community development---the equivalent of our barangays having sports facilities," he said.

The lawmaker pointed out that the primary problem besetting the country's sports sector is funding, noting that the Philippine Sports Commission's P750-million annual budget pales in comparison to Thailand's equivalent budget of P13 billion, Singapore's P6.5 billion, and Indonesia and Malaysia's P4-billion funding.

"We are hoping that sports development will be included in PNoy's last state of the nation address. Any move to boost sports spending should not just be aimed at winning international competitions but in promoting wellness among our people," he said.

Angara stressed that the promotion of exercise and an active lifestyle should be part of the country's health program.

"We've heard of funds to combat smoking or allocations to cure many diseases. But sports as preventive medicine, hindi pa natin naririnig 'yan. For the Filipino people, especially the youth, to get involved in sports, whether for health, competition or recreational purpose, government should provide the facilities for them," he added.

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