ADVOCATING the power of sports in the fight against drug abuse and the promotion of health, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go attended the 2023 Muaythai National Championship held at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Wednesday, November 15.
In his address, Go highlighted the crucial role of sports in addressing key societal challenges, particularly in steering the youth away from illegal drugs. He underscored the importance of maintaining health and fitness through sports, expressing his unwavering support for Filipino athletes with the words,
“Asahan n’yo ang inyong Kuya Bong Go nandirito lang na laging handang sumuporta sa ating mga atleta.”
“Gusto ko talagang ipagpatuloy na labanan po ang iligal na droga sa pamamagitan po ng pag-engganyo sa mga kabataan to get into sports, stay away from drugs, and to keep us healthy and fit,” he added.
Go underscored the government’s commitment to nurturing young talent and using sports as a tool for positive change.
The senator also took the opportunity to acknowledge and commend the efforts of the Muaythai Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MAP) and its officials, recognizing their contribution to the sport’s growth in the country. He praised the work of former police major general Lucas Managuelod, Chairman and President of MAP, Stephen Arapoc, MAP Vice President, and Ryan Rudkin, Vice Chairman of the Muay Thai International Federation, for their dedication to promoting Muaythai.
From the government sector, he extended his gratitude to Chairman Stephen Hontiveros of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), as well as Commissioners Walter Torres and Matthew Fritz Gaston of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for their support in sports development.
Lastly, the senator expressed his deep appreciation for the technical staff, coaches, and athletes, whose tireless work and commitment continue to uplift the standard and recognition of Muaythai in the country and internationally.
Diving into the government’s role in supporting sports, Go highlighted his efforts in sponsoring the 2024 budget for the PSC in the Senate. As the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports, Go spoke of his commitment to enhancing grassroots sports development in the Philippines and improving the condition of sports facilities such as the Rizal Memorial Complex and the Philsports Complex.
He detailed initiatives like the National Academy of Sports (NAS), a significant move to integrate education and athletic training for young athletes,
“Ano ang eskwelahang ito? Ako rin po ang isa sa author at co-sponsor nito sa Senado. Sa National Academy of Sports ay pwede po kayong magtraining at the same time mag-aral.”
Go authored and co-sponsored the measure that became Republic Act 11470, which established the NAS in 2020. NAS is a government-run educational institution that offers quality secondary education with a special curriculum on sports for gifted young Filipinos who want to enhance their physical and mental capabilities in sports.
Meanwhile, Go also detailed his health-related initiatives, underscoring his prioritization of accessible healthcare. He urged the public to utilize medical and financial assistance from any of the 159 Malasakit Centers in the country.
Malasakit Centers bring together representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). These one-stop shops aim to support impoverished patients in reducing their hospital costs to the least possible amount.
Go is the principal author and sponsor of RA 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program. The Malasakit Center program has already provided aid to more than ten million Filipinos as of October 2023 according to DOH.
He also reiterated his commitment to support the establishment of more Super Health Centers across the country, considering how they can significantly help reduce hospital occupancy rates while bringing government medical services closer to the grassroots.
He said that Super Health Centers are designed to focus on primary care, consultation, and early detection, further strengthening the healthcare sector in the country, especially in grassroots communities.
Concluding his speech, Go reiterated his support for the athletes, expressing joy in their successes and promising continued assistance,
“At masaya po ako tuwing nananalo po kayo ng international competition… bukas po ang aking opisina sa mga atleta… tutulong po ako sa abot ng aking makakaya.”
Furthermore, he remains committed to advancing grassroots sports development through legislative initiatives such as Senate Bill No. (SBN) 423, or the proposed Philippine National Games Act. This proposed bill seeks to provide a platform for athletes across the nation, particularly in rural areas, to showcase their skills and compete nationally.
Go also authored SBN 2116, a proposal that aims to amend RA 10699, also known as the “National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.” He highlighted the crucial necessity to provide recognition to para-athletics competing in international competitions. Underscoring that disabilities should not diminish the honor rightfully due to these para-athletes, Go urged stakeholders to support the bill to promote inclusivity in sports.
Meanwhile, Go emphasized the increased budget for the PSC this year that he sponsored with the support of Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance. The increased funding aims to foster grassroots sports development and adequately prepare national athletes for upcoming international competitions.