MANILA–A partylist lawmaker at the House of Representatives has called for the strengthening of the country’s sports development program for the youth as the country stages the annual sports fest, 2017 Palarong Pambansa, in Antique this week.
In a statement on Wednesday, Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said it was high time to revert the original name of the Department of Education (DepEd) to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS).
Atienza explained that since the devolving of the DECS into the DepEd back in 2001, sports development and the learning of Philippine culture and arts “became virtually non-existent”.
“It is high time that we bring back sports and culture in the basic curriculum of our schools, both public and private,” Atienza said.
“The Palarong Pambansa is one way of promoting and encouraging our youth to get into sports but sports should not be a once a year event but a daily habit that we should instill in our children specially in their growing years,” he added.
Atienza has filed House Bill 2628, which seeks to restore the original functions of the DepEd back to the DECS.
The lawmaker pointed out that the country was a powerhouse with Filipino athletes dominating various competitions in the 1970s and 1980s.
He stressed that the government should acknowledge the role of schools in developing young athletes.
“We cannot produce champion swimmers and runners even when thousands of Filipino children grow up near the sea and rice fields. How can we produce champion athletes when we have no sports development program that should start from the grassroots and from grade school?,” Atienza said.
Furthermore, Atienza said improving the sports and cultural programs could also help curb drug use among the youth.
“We believe that the right approach to this problem should be a comprehensive program that would involve the development of sports and cultural programs to keep our youth away from drugs,” he said.
More than 12,000 young athletes from 18 regions in the country are competing in 21 regular sporting events in this year’s Palarong Pambansa.
The games began on Sunday and will last until Saturday.
The 60th edition of the annual games was organized by the Department of Education (DepEd) and hosted by the province of Antique.