Issue of January 3, 2021
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Boxing promoter joins opposition on HB 1526
by Ofelia C. Empian

A local boxing promoter joined the snowballing opposition against a bill banning minors from full contact sports, saying they should instead be molded while they are still young.

Highland Boxing Gym promoter Brico Santig said House Bill 1526 or  “An Act Banning Minors from Full-Contact Competitive Sports” filed by Ako Bicol Party-list Reps. Alfredo Garbin  and Elizaldy Co should be reviewed.

Santig said most of the country’s world champions in boxing started young, such as Sen. Manny Pacquiao, International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, as well as rising boxing champion Carl Jammes Martin of Ifugao.

“Majority of boxing world champions in the country started training while they were still minors,” Santig said, adding even countries like China and Thailand start training their combative athletes as young as nine years old.

The bill prohibits the participation of minors in competitive full-contact sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts, jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, judo, and full-contact karate.

“While acknowledging the importance, benefits, and values that can be derived from participating in these sports, this bill also recognizes the paramount need to protect minors. Such responsibility is imposed on parents, guardians, schools, and sports associations because minors are incapacitated to give consent nor can they waive any right of action for injuries inflicted upon them during and in connection with such activities,” HB 1526 stated.

Santig said safety nets should be strengthened and imposed to ensure that minors are protected while training or joining competitions. Minors joining competitions must also present a parent’s waiver with the presence of a coach to train the child, medical personnel on standby and provided with appropriate gears.

He said accidents in sports do not happen all the time, unless safety protocols are not being practiced.

Santig added his gym, which is located in La Trinidad, Benguet, is open as a training area for free for young combative athletes in the locality, especially during competition season by the Department of Education and other grassroots sports meets.

Philippine Sports Commission Chief Butch Ramirez thinks the bill has its good intention but it goes against the grassroots sports development programs that the government is championing for young athletes.

Ramirez said the bill needs amendment, particularly in pushing for sports leaders and other stakeholders to rethink their program of activities for young athletes.

He acknowledged budget constraints in the PSC that is why they would push for more budget for the agency to continuously support grassroots development programs for the youth.

The 13 National Sports Associations has forwarded a position paper opposing the bill, which is now under the Committee on Youth and Sports Development.

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