[PHOTO AT LEFT - Photo is loading... Presidential candidate Sen. Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III answers a question during an open forum at the Betty Go Belmonte Hall of The Philippine STAR. Val Rodriguez]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 21, 2010 (STAR) By Dante Navarro - Presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said he wants to use a realistic approach to the country’s sports development program because of the government’s limited resources.

He said the government will have a direct hand in the implementation of these programs through the Philippine Sports Commission with emphasis on sports where the country has more chances of winning in the international arena.

“I think sports redirection would be a better term. Since we don’t have much in terms of resources compared to rich countries, I think there should be more focus to it,” Aquino said.

Aquino took a break from his hectic campaign schedule to be with The STAR editors in an open discussion that took over two hours to finish where he talked on politics, economy, environment, health, Mindanao and insurgency, among others.

Turning to sports, Aquino, one of the leading presidential bets said, given the government’s limited funds, the most sensible thing to do is to concentrate and compete in disciplines where the Filipinos have more chances of winning.

“There are sports where we can excel in and the multiplying effect of sports are the role models who excel under particular fields,” said Aquino.

“How do they do it? Through discipline and they stay away from drugs, etc. So if that is the net benefit to society, then it behooves us to compete in areas where we have a possibility of winning,” he said.

Aquino singled out boxing and billiards, two sports that have been the country’s source of pride in various international competitions and which, according to him, need full government support.

He actually cited the RP boxers’ plight during the Asian Games in Doha where they had to share training and fight uniforms to compete.

“Imagine, Nagpapasuntok ka na para sa bansa pero uniform lang di pa kaya , kailangan pang mag-hiraman ng boxing shorts ( We’re fighting for the country and yet we couldn’t even afford to have our own uniform, do we have to share boxing shorts),” Aquino said.

If and when he gets elected, Aquino promised all-out support to sports but could not vouch to deliver the elusive Olympic gold medal under his watch.

“I can’t promise the first Olympic gold. But we will do everything we can,” said Aquino. “Are we close to that level or we’re just starting?”

Aquino has kept tab of what’s going on in RP sports, especially its warring officials who are supposed to be the role models for the athletes.

But under Aquino administration, many see an end to the rift between the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission, two sports bodies tasked to oversee the development of RP sports and the national athletes.

With uncle Jose Cojuangco Jr. at the helm until 2012, the POC is expected to finally work hand in hand with the PSC, whose chairman will be appointed by the President.

“The bottomline is that I don’t think a situation where the sports bodies can’t get along with each other will be tolerated,” he said.

“Kakaunti na nga ang resources mo tapos mag-aaway pa kayo, saan na tayo tutungo nito? (We have limited resources -- how can we move on if our officials keep quarreling),” said Aquino.

He also took notice of the size of RP delegations in various international meets where officials almost always outnumber the athletes.

“I am really astounded by this. Parang mali, parang reverse,” he said, shaking his head.

When asked whether he would bat for a fixed term of the PSC chairman, who is co-terminus with the President, Aquino said it is a matter that requires a thorough study and deliberation.

“Probably I would, but let me study the matter,” he said. “I will not trifle with the youths’ future.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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