NEWLY elected Pampanga congressman Yeng Guiao on Tuesday batted for the creation of a national stadium inside Clark in Angeles City, which he said would be a big boost to the country's sports program.
Speaking a day after wrestling a congressional seat away from one of the most prominent political families in Pampanga, Guiao said Clark is the most ideal place for a world-class stadium that can host international events and at the same time serve as a training facility for national athletes.
"To build a national stadium, you need land and that can be pretty expensive. But if you build it inside Clark, you don't have to pay for the land," said the multi-titled Rain or Shine coach, who handily beat Francis Nepomuceno for the congressional seat in the first district of Pampanga.
The former US military base, Guiao said, is also accessible to athletes and spectators from both Manila and overseas with its existing airport and transportation facilities. Lodging for foreign teams won't be a problem with several top-class hotels inside the facility, he added.
"In fact, you can hold sports events there every weekend," Guiao told Spin.ph. "That will boost sports tourism not only in our district but the whole country as well."
As for the enormous funding needed for such a facility, the three-term Pampanga vice governor said the national government can raise funds through the sale of the land where the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex - the main training facility for national athletes - currently sits.
Aware that the ageing complex is the subject of an ownership dispute between the city of Manila and the national government, Guiao said legislation could be pushed where the contending parties can agree to a division of the huge profits anticipated from the sale.
For its part, the local government can convince big business, including Pampanga's own Manny V. Pangilinan, to invest in such a venture, Guiao said.
The stadium plan, Guiao said, forms part of one of the priority bills he plans to push when he formally joins the lower house, which was to turn the existing Clark Development Corp., which manages the former military base under the BCDA, into an authority.
"Right now, it's hard to manage Clark since the CDC is only a corporation and all its decisions goes through the board and the BCDA," said the three-term Pampanga vice governor. "If we turn it into an authority, it will streamline its operations and spur economic growth in the area."
Another priority bill Guiao has vowed to pursue in Congress is for the creation of a Department of Sports, which he said would focus not just on the elite athletes but also the general well-being of the population.
"Right now, sports is just the last letter in the DECS (Department of Education, Culture and Sports). It deserves more attention. A Department of Sports' priority should be to promote a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos, and complement the job of the Department of Health," he said.
As for his dual role as PBA head coach and public servant, Guiao said nothing will change.
"Wala namang pagbabago. I will still coach; I love coaching," he said. "Flexible naman ang schedule ko, so I have enough time to devote to practices and games, sessions sa Congress, and meeting with my constituents in the first district of Pampanga."