MANILA, Philippines – Ako Bikol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe believes that a proposed ban on minors joining full-contact sports won't affect the country's ability to produce world-class fighters.
Batocabe, together with fellow Ako Bicol Rep. Christopher Co, filed House Bill 3646 that aims to prohibit the participation of minors in competitive full-contact sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts, jujitsu, muay thai, judo, and various forms of full-contact karate.
“Meaning to say below 18 hindi po pwedeng magkaroon ng competition sa contact sports na kung saan ang kumpetisyon ay makatama ka sa katawan ng kalaban,” Batocabe said in an interview with TJ Manotoc on "The Score."
Batocabe said the safety gear being used in amateur contact sports is not enough to protect young athletes from injury.
He said a direct hit on the head can shake the brain and leave long-term effects.
“Ang sinasabi nila, okay may gear ka nga. Ang pinoprotektahan lang nyan ay yung labas ng ulo mo. Pero yung utak mo pag natamaan yan ay nayayanig. ‘Yan po ay may matagalang epekto,” said Batocabe.
He said that only when a person reaches the legal age should he or she be allowed to compete in contact sports because the person is already old enough to decide for himself or herself.
Batocabe compared the bill to laws that prohibit minors from smoking, drinking, or driving.
“Parang sinasabi mong karapatan ng batang uminom, manigarilyo o mag-drive,” he said. “Ang sinasabi lang natin dito, habang bata ka, wala ka pa sa hustong gulang ay obligasyon ng pamahalaan na protektahan ka.”
Batocabe and Co have decided to push for the bill following the death of 16-year-old amateur boxer Jonas Joshua Garcia.
Garcia was rendered in comatose after competing in the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association in Iba, Zambales. He later passed away.
“Habang wala ka pang kapasidad na magdesisyon sa sarili mo ay ‘wag muna. Kung nasa edad ka na at despite of all these consequences, then by all means pwede ka nang sumabak sa competition,” said Batocabe.
He also said the bill aims to "protect and not suppress."
“In the first place, kahit sabihin natin na nagsimula ka ng 5 years, old, 6 years old, o kahit noong hindi pa natin ipinagbabawal ay hanggang ngayon hindi pa tayo nakakagold sa Olympics,” he said.
“Ang kailangan lang natin dito ay proper training, proper discipline and of course ‘yung proper timing ‘di ba? Kahit papaano sa Olympics, may swerte rin di ba?”