BACOLOD CITY – A Negrense lawmaker has sought to expedite the approval of the bill seeking the establishment of a National Academy of Sports (NAS) campus in E.B. Magalona, Negros Occidental to provide specialized training for youth athletes in the province.
“I hope the House will soon approve this bill so we can start training young Negrense athletes with winning potential,” Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, author of House Bill (HB) 8036, said in a statement on Sunday.
He noted that he filed the bill on Nov. 17, 2020 with the dream for Negros Occidental to produce more Olympians.
“I am one with the entire nation in celebrating the success of our athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics. It is my hope that the achievement of our athletes in the 2020 Olympics will inspire young athletes in Negros Occidental,” Benitez said.
He said the Philippines’ performance in this year’s Summer Olympic Games is the best yet since the country joined the Olympiad in 1924, and only the second time that Filipino athletes won two or more medals.
“We are eternally grateful for the honor and pride the groundbreaking achievement of Filipino athletes bring to our nation,” Benitez said.
The Philippines bagged four medals in the Olympic Games set to end Aug. 8. Hidilyn Diaz won the country’s first-ever gold medal in the women’s 55-kg. weightlifting; Nesthy Petecio, silver, women’s boxing featherweight; Carlo Paalam, silver, men’s boxing flyweight; and Eumir Marcial, bronze medalist, men’s boxing middleweight.
On June 9, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11470, establishing the NAS designed as an educational facility for student-athletes.
Under the law, the NAS is tasked to implement a secondary education program that is integrated with a special curriculum on sports to help young Filipino athletes develop further their sporting skills, and grants full scholarship to qualified student-athletes.
The main campus of the NAS will be established at the New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac.
In the explanatory note of HB 8036, Benitez said the next NAS campus to rise in the country should be in the Visayas.
“And there is no better location for a high school for sports in the Visayas than Negros Occidental,” he added.
Negros Occidental has produced three boxers who competed in the Olympic Games, all from Bago City -- Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, who earned a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and his elder brother Roel, who won a bronze in the 1992 Barcelona Games, and Rogen Ladon, a 2016 Rio Olympics campaigner, who also won a silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
Negros Occidental was designated as host of the Palarong Pambansa for the sixth time supposedly this year, holding the record of hosting the most number of Palaro events.
“A NAS campus in Negros Occidental will cultivate the talent of young Negrosanons to become accomplished professional athletes and raise Filipino pride. But perhaps more importantly, a dedicated sports program, with a strong values formation component, will divert young people from vices that would otherwise occupy their time and attention,” Benitez said. (PNA)