MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the measure seeking to establish the National Academy of Sports (NAS), saying the law heralds a new era in Philippine sports development.

Republic Act 11470 was signed by Duterte Tuesday in simple ceremonies in Davao City on June 9.

“It is about time that we establish a learning institution focused on sports. I firmly believe that with this law, we will be able to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of sports development,” Go said.

“Ngayon na magkakaroon na ng National Academy of Sports, sabay nang mabibigyan ang mga kabataang atleta ng pagkakataon na mag-training at makapag-aral sa isang world-class na pasilidad at eskwelahan (Now that we will have an NAS, our youth athletes will be given the opportunity to train and study in a world-class facility and institution at the same time),” he said.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Sports and one of the principal authors of the measure thanked Duterte for supporting and signing the measure, noting that similar measures have been pending in the legislature for almost a decade now.

He said even before he became a lawmaker, he had always believed that providing the Filipino youth with better opportunities to develop into productive citizens of society through sports can be an effective means for them to stay away from illegal drugs and criminality.

“Sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng sapat at maayos na mga programa para sa ating mga kabataan na makapag-aral ng mabuti at magabayan sila sa kanilang mga talento tulad sa sports, mas mabibigyan sila ng oportunidad na magtagumpay sa buhay at mailayo sa masasamang bisyo tulad ng iligal na droga (By providing the youth the necessary programs for them to study well and hone their talents like sports, they are also provided better opportunities to succeed in life and avoid vices like illegal drugs),” Go said.

Under the new law, the NAS, which will be attached to the Department of Education (DepEd), shall be geared towards the early recognition and development of highly talented and exceptionally gifted students and those who have demonstrated the potential of excelling in the field of sports.

It shall develop and implement a secondary education program, integrated with a special curriculum on sports, targeting young Filipinos with the talent and desire to develop further their sporting skills.

Full scholarship will be offered to qualified natural-born secondary school students.

Among others, the law requires that the main campus of the NAS shall be established at the existing New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac.

It shall be equipped with the necessary sports facilities, housing, and other amenities according to current international standards.

School buildings with sufficient number of classrooms and facilities shall also be constructed at the complex.

In addition to honing the students, the board of the academy will also be allowed to approve the hiring of licensed foreign coaches, trainers and consultants duly certified as necessary by Philippine Sports Commission to ensure the international competitiveness of the students.

“The establishment of the NAS in very close proximity to world-class facilities in New Clark City, student-athletes can enjoy a level of training which is at par with the best in the world and at the same time be given quality education,” Go said. “With this landmark measure, the Philippines can produce more world-class Filipino athletes who are well-educated and well-rounded, with a strong sense of patriotism and love of country.”

Besides the NAS Act, three other priority bills of Go have already been enacted into law: RA 11462 (Postponing the May 2020 Barangay and SK Elections), RA 11463 (Malasakit Centers Act), and RA 11466 (Salary Standardization Act). (PNA)