MANILA, Philippines– The province of Laguna is set to host the upcoming Palarong Pambansa for the first time in the 66-year history of the annual multi-sports meet for elementary and high school students.
Officials of the Department of Education and the province of Laguna expressed their readiness to welcome the presence of around 15,000 to 27,000 young athletes, coaches and officials from 17 regions, who will compete for top honors in 19 sports disciplines this summer on May 4 to 10 in Sta Cruz.
“Today marks another historical moment for the province of Laguna as we signed the memorandum of agreement with the Department of Education to host the country’s largest and premier sporting event, the Palarong Pambansa 2014,” Laguna Gov. Jeorge “ER” Ejercito Estregan said in yesterday’s press conference at the DepEd’s Bulwagan ng Karunungan in Pasig City.
Deped secretary Armin Luistro commended the hard work and effort, which the province, through Gov. Estregan, put in over the last two years to make things happen this year.
Estregan said Laguna’s hosting is worth the wait after they made unsuccessful efforts to get the hosting rights for two straight years.
To ensure of the participation of the best athletes who are coming from the regions’ best bets, a budget of P210 million has been allocated by the national government to make the Palaro happen again this year.
Likewise, the provincial government has put in P70 million to help rehabilitate the facilities inside the 10-hectare Sports Complex of Laguna.
According to Estregan, state-of-the-art facilities and the construction of an athletes’ village will make the weeklong games a memorable event for those who will be participating.
On the other hand, more medals will be up for grabs, now that they included wrestling, wushu and billiards to the calendar of events this year.
“Aside from the regular sports, the DepEd has decided to add wushu, wrestling and billiards this year because we fill those are the sports we can excel at in the international scene,” Luistro said.
Palaro prioritizes safety
Organizers of the event will be working closely with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to guarantee the safety of all athletes, particularly those competing in boxing, to avoid a similar incident that caused the death of a young Bulacan boxer during the Central Luzon regionals in Zambales.
Luistro said that the PSC will be lending technical assistance in boxing as they opted to stick with all contact sports such as: arnis, taekwondo, wrestling and wushu in the 57th edition of the annual sporting event for elementary and high-school student-athletes while wrestling, wushu and billiards will be making their debut.
Along with the provincial government of Laguna, Luistro said his department, under Gov. ER Ejercito, and the PSC are making sure that measures will be undertaken to avoid all untoward incidents.
Ejercito added that they will deploy enough medical personnel who are capable of giving first aid in all game venues. Ambulances and other medical equipment will also be in place.
Meanwhile, Palaro officials are anticipating limited participation in boxing following the death of a 16-year-old high school student from Bulacan during a regional meet in Bulacan.
Few of the regions have signified their intentions to join the boxing competitions but Palaro secretary general and Deped assistant secretary Tonisito Umali said this will not deter them from holding the event.
On the other hand, Estregan said the peace and order situation of the province will be guaranteed with the presence of additional police officers.