Hosting the 2019 SEA Games may be the best investment our nation has made in the last 100 years

Hosting the 2019 SEA Games may be the best investment our nation has made in the last 100 years

- in Opinion
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During an interview with Umagang Kay Ganda hosts Anthony Taberna and Jorge Cariño, Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation Alan Peter Cayetano unveiled the vast economic potential the Philippines will be earning by hosting the coming SEA Games. 

While the cost of hosting the Games may seem off-putting to critics who would prefer that the government instead invest in social programs or other infrastructure projects that seem more “useful”, the return on investment potential actually greatly outweighs the initial cost.

Speaker Cayetano took the interview to highlight the multiple purposes of the SEA Games, including how it will foster generations of youths to have an interest in sports. For the first time in 100 years, we are updating our sports and athletics facilities. 

“Napakalaki naman ng gastos talaga P6-billion for the hosting alone. But having said that, ‘di ba ‘yung last time natin nag-build ng sports sa stadium 1930’s pa. So parati nating sinasabing sport, sport, sport sa mga bata, disiplina. Pero hindi naman natin ginagawa ‘yung facilities. Since ‘yung DepEd ay creneate bale ‘yung (DECS), dating Department of Education, Culture and Sports, nung hiniwalay naging CHEd, Tesda at DepEd. Nawala ‘yung sports, so napunta sa Philippine Sports Commission. Pero sa liit ng budget nila, do they do a grassroots program or do they do a program for winning medals ng ano. So hopefully itong mga iiwanan na venue sa Clark ay gagawin nating first Philippine National Sports Academy — pinangungunahan ito ni Senator Bong Go at ng inyong lingkod at na-approve na ito ng ating Pangulo. So hopefully po maging model ito, then hopefully every region, then later on province, maybe have more humble na facilities pero kumpleto dapat,” Speaker Cayetano explained.

Not only that, but PHISGOC and other leading agencies for the Games have stepped in to reform the sports community’s notoriously bad behavior. 

“After the Games, talagang dapat upuan ng pulitika sa sports dahil kung tingin ninyo madumi ang pulitika sa gobyerno, or sa business grabe ang pulitika sa sports,” Speaker Cayetano said.

No doubt, this will increase the number of children who take up sports and decrease their exposure to negative influences, like illegal drugs.

Besides this huge advantage for our future leaders, the games would also boost the profile of the Philippine as a sports tourism destination.

“We want to assure the public na ginagawa ng Duterte administration ang lahat ng puwedeng gawin para makita ng buong mundo na open for business ang Pilipinas. $600-billion a year ang industriya ng sports tourism, at s’yempre ang sports alam mo naman mula sa pagkabata ‘yan ay anti-drugs, ‘yan ay disiplina, pang-sakripisyo, right nutrition. So we want the SEA Games to actually be a catalyst para mabuhay ulit ang grassroots sports program sa Pilipinas,” Speaker Cayetano said during the interview.

Tapping into just a sliver of the $600-B annual pie for sports tourism income could spell the difference for a number of social service programs the government is trying to implement, all without having to increase taxation on citizens. By generating new revenue streams, the Games will help solve pressing questions like where we will get funding to properly implement the Universal Health Care system or ensure truly free tertiary education.

While these bills were landmarks of the safe and comfortable life President Duterte envisioned for the future of all Filipinos, they need enormous amounts of revenue which current programs simply cannot accommodate.

Anyone who has seen the amazing new facilities in New Clark City can see that the hosting isn’t just for show. These projects, despite being completed in just 17 months and on a budget just a shadow of the original proposal, are obviously meant to be legacies passed on through generations of Filipinos. Critics can rest easy knowing that their fears of disuse and abandonment for these facilities after the Games are definitely not coming true. In fact, the facilities already have their future mapped out – many will be integrated into other government projects down the pipeline, including the soon to rise Government Center in New Clark City as well. The SEA Games facilities are among the key investments of the administration because these show that the government cares about us in a holistic way, not just in terms of what we can do for the economy.

Even if we don’t invest in our sports programs for another 100 years, we will still have earned an incredible amount of both quantitative and qualitative benefits for our country. The Administration, as Speaker Cayetano said, is playing smart with its money on the safe bet that the Philippines will truly prosper with more investments into sports.

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