File photo of athletes from Agutaya town during the opening of Palarong Panlalawigan 2023 in Bataraza

Although pleased with the revival of sports competitions organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members conveyed their dissatisfaction with the updated regulations and procedures introduced for choosing athletes who will compete in the advanced stages of the competition.

The board members assailed DepEd Memorandum Order No. 005, Series of 2023, which serves as the implementing guidelines for the conduct of the 2023 Palarong Pambansa, as well as the basis for the MIMAROPA Regional Athletic Association Meet (MIMAROPA RAA) and other DepEd sports events at lower levels.

One of the board members, Rafael Ortega Jr., specifically pointed out item 2 of the implementation guidelines for the modified competition format of the 2023 Palarong Pambansa school-level competitions under MO 005, Deries of 2023. This provision urges all schools to establish sports clubs that can adjust to compulsory and preferred sports competitions.

Under MO 005, all organized sports clubs must be duly recognized by their concerned sports division office authority.

He said that the new rule contradicts the basis for staging sports meets, which is mandated by Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution. This section stipulates that “the state shall promote physical education, encourage sports programs, lead competitions for amateur sports, including training for international competitions, to foster discipline, teamwork, and excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry.”

He also expressed disagreement with the winner-take-all policy for team sports, which he said is not suitable for the province of Palawan. The province has schools from different municipalities that may not have the resources to hire competent, trained, and technically skilled coaches and trainers to guide and develop their respective sports clubs.

Ortega said the new policies cannot encourage, develop, and produce athletes who can compete at par with those from larger regions, particularly the NCR, in terms of forming sports club team events while complying with the DepEd guidelines and policies.

“Clearly, we can hypothetically say that the foregoing guidelines and polices are designed for sports clubs in the big regions as well as the NCR which as a result, it deprives opportunity to our kabataang Palaweño who have potentials to show and perform their abilities,” Ortega said in his privilege speech during their regular session on Tuesday.

“Itanong ko nga, kasalanan ba ng isang bata sa lalawigan ang mag-aral sa isang maliit at walang kakayanang eskwelahan na magtayo ng sports club,” he said.

Ortega explained further that the sports club rule hinders athletes’ chances of being scouted by universities, which, in turn, deprives them of the opportunity to obtain better education and a brighter future.

He expressed concern about the policy that deprives young sports enthusiasts in the province of the opportunity to discover and develop their talents, and he questioned how strong sports programs could be developed under such a policy, which removes their chance to participate in the provincial athletic meet since there is no selection process.

“Given the situation, how can we develop strong sports programs for our young sports enthusiasts in the province if we have this kind of policy that deprives them from discovering and developing their talents, abilities and capabilities to the fullest kasi nga, tinanggalan na natin sila ng pagkakataon na makasama sa Palarong Panlalawigan dahil walang selection process,” he stated.

Board Member Ryan Maminta chimed in, supporting Ortega’s sentiments. He said that while creating school sports clubs is an integral part of sports development, it is saddening that DepEd did not conduct consultations with the local government regarding MO 005.

He also stated that municipalities could establish sports clubs to strengthen the selection process of athletes, thus enabling them to assemble stronger teams to represent the province in regional competitions.

He cited the basketball team of Narra Integrated School as an example, which won the recent Palarong Panlalawigan and was chosen as the province’s representative for the regional meet through the winner-take-all system. He explained that this deprived players from other municipalities who were also quality players and could have qualified as members of the provincial delegation.

Responding to the Palawan News Editorial about the new rules, Maminta stated that he could not disagree with the idea of not sending a delegation for events where the province has a slim chance of winning, which could result in being labeled as “talunan” or losers..

“Ito ay nagtutulak ng kaugaliang talunan. Hindi ito nagsusulong ng kompetisyon at marubdob na pagnanais na kahit sa maliit na resources ay magkaroon tayo ng representasyon sa MIMAROPA at sa Palarong Pambansa. Hindi ito nagsusulong ng sportsmanship at ng pangkalahatang naisin ng larangan ng sports para sa mga kabataan,” Maminta said.

“Kung ganito ang attitude at ganito ang nais i-promote ng DepEd bilang pangunahing kagawaran na nagsusulong ng sports, sa tingin ko hindi Maganda ang kalalagayan ng sports sa ating mga lugar, particular sa Palawan,” he added, implying further that such mindset will give no hope for the future of the province in the field of sports.