MANILA, Philippines – The safety and security of the delegates will be the priority of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Antique when the province hosts the 60th edition of the Palarong Pambansa from April 23 to 29.
Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said Tuesday at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel that their department and the host province of Antique are beefing up the games' security in coordination with the police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other concerned agencies.
Antique is expecting an estimated 12,000 delegates from 18 regions.
"Safety and security are the top concern of the authorities, host province Antique, and our (Education) Secretary Leonor Briones," said Umali, who will also serve as the Palaro secretary general.
According to Umali, security personnel will be stationed in all ports of entry in Antique as well as other strategic areas in the province.
Uniformed men and women will also be provided to the delegates and VIPs, and a team of paramedics will be stationed in strategic areas.
To avoid injuries due to the summer heat, DepEd is planning to have a break in hostilities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We are seriously studying the possibility for temporarily stopping all field events during that period," said Umali, who also assured that all playing venues are compliant with international standards.
In fact, the DepEd Central Office has allotted an additional P30 million for the rehabilitation of some venues, aside from the P40 million appropriated by Antique, and the P10-million financial aid from the Philippines Sports Commission.
Congress annually appropriates P350 million for DepEd in holding school-based sports competitions that include division and regional meets as well as the Palarong Pambansa.
Meanwhile, Cesar Abalon, the head of DepEd's School Sports Division, confirmed that four sports – wushu, billiards, wrestling, and futsal – are now regular sports that will be counted in the medal tally, after being held as demo sports in previous years.
The regular events to be contested in the secondary division are: archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, chess, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis and volleyball.
The same events will be contested in the elementary division except for archery and boxing.
Aero gymnastics, pencak silat, dance sport, and 3x3 basketball will be played as demo sports.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)