By Mario Casayuran
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Basic Education Committee, said Friday his focus would be on how to maximize the world-class sports facilities that the government has built for the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).
‘’In the beginning, there were birth pains but it’s all isolated cases because if it’s an organizational issue it would be systematic but after the first and second day we can see that the organizing team (Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee or Phisgoc) now managed to put the procedures in place and everything went smoothly from then on,’’ Gatchalian said in analyzing the snafus that attended the first days of the sports events that were eventually solved.
Gatchalian also joined others in keeping silent as the games are still going, but on insists on an audit of the billions of pesos spent for the SEA Games facilities and other expenses after the biennial event.
‘’After the event, it’s important to have a post-event analysis and I really feel since we have the facilities already we can move forward to even bigger events,’’ he said.
There are proposals pending in Congress for the establishment of a high school for sports.
Commenting on this, Gatchalian said that ‘’with the outstanding showing this SEA Games, I think it’s logical to move forward with grass roots development of sports and high school for sports will be a vehicle to develop our athletes from the grassroots and also from an early age.’’
‘’If you want world-class athletes you have to let them experience world-class facilities. So it’s just fitting to put the high school in New Clark City,’’ he explained.
He said students to be enrolled in the high school for sports would be classified as scholars, enjoying free high school education with the important feature of the school is its sports facilities.
In terms of funding, Gatchalian said government ‘’will attract corporate sponsors, corporate sponsor is the main sponsor of the event, so corporate sponsors, we will also welcome international donors, a lot of international donors want to develop the sporting event the sporting culture but definitely the academics will come from government, government will fund the academics and the government will fund the stipend that will be given to the athletes. ’’
He said his committee is starting on laying the ground works for the sports high school next month.
“We are targeting January of next year, at least the rollout,” Gatchalian said.
‘’The law is being discussed in the Senate, the House (of Representatives) is also in unison with this proposal hopefully we get the bill approved by this year or early part of next year and we’ll rollout in 2020,’’ he added.