THE creation of a government department dedicated solely to sports development both in the elite and grassroots level is the cure to all the ills plaguing Philippine sports, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Friday.
Under Senate Bill 3092, also known as the Department of Sports Act 2012 which he authored and is now pushing in both houses of Congress, Trillanes is seeking the creation of a separate department for sports that will encompass the current function of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Trillanes said that if approved, the bill would pave the way for the formation of a Department of Sports that will formulate policy and coordinate, implement, promote, and develop programs for sports and physical fitness in the country.
The senator noted that in contrast, the PSC only functions as the government’s funding arm, spending both for the athletes’ training and participation in international competitions.
Trillanes, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, said the department would be similar to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports under the late President Marcos, and the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) of the late President Aquino, but with a sole emphasis on the development of sports and physical fitness.
The creation of a sports department would also give its head a position equal to a cabinet secretary, whereas the PSC chairman currently holds only the rank equivalent to an undersecretary.
“Once Senate Bill 3092 becomes a law, a new department dedicated to sports will have a leader who will be as close as he can be to the President, and holding a position with the rank of a secretary, thereby giving sports an even greater access to the President’s list of priorities,” said Trillanes.
Trillanes already conducted a hearing discussing the pros and cons of the bill, with no less than International Olympic Committee representative to the country Frank Elizalde, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia, and other top sports personalities in attendance.
Sought for a reaction, Garcia said he has nothing against the bill, but said it needs further review to achieve its primary target.
“It is a good bill. Good for sports to have a department,” said the PSC chairman. “But the bill needs to be reviewed and Senator Trillanes agreed to form a technical working group to study it. Funding is one of those that needed to be looked at.”
Trillanes proposed an initial budget of P400 million for the department, the same exact amount allotted to the PSC when it was first created in 1990.
The bill also aims to put up an Amateur Sports Development Bureau within the department to look after grassroots development, while an International Sports Development Bureau will take care of athletes' training for international competitions, according to Trillanes.
“It is hoped that once the Department of Sports is established, sports would once again become an integral component of youth development, a galvanizing force for national unity, and a source of national pride,” said Trillanes.