Former Olympian and champion taekwondo jin Monsour del Rosario said he opposed a Congressional proposal banning minors from participating in competitive full-contact sports.
He said House Bill 1526, or "An Act Banning Minors From Full-Contact Competitive Sports", would hurt the country's grassroots program in various combat sports.
"Sa buong mundo, tayo lang yata ang may bill na ganito. Noong pinadala ko ang bill sa international federation, presidente ng ibang bansa ng taekwondo, nagulat sila. 'Hindi kayo makakahabol nito, lalo kayong maiiwan ng panahon,' sabi nila," said Del Rosario, who has represented the country in major international competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, World Championships and the Olympics.
The bill was filed by Ako Bicol Party-list Representatives Alfredo Garbin Jr. and Elizaldy Co.
"I don't know if he understands 'yung paghahalaga ng character development through combat sports so I really don't agree with the bill," added Del Rosario, a former secretary general of the Philippine Taekwondo Federation and current president of the ASEAN Taekwondo Federation.
"I don't agree with the bill in full respect for Cong. Garbin who was a fellow congressman when I was in congress. I know he's a lawyer, I don't know kung sino'ng nag-udyok sa kanya na isipin itong bill."
He said it would take years to mold a champion.
Del Rosario said he started training in martial arts at the age of 9. He is a 2-time gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games and won bronze medals in the 1984 World Championships and the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.
"To develop a Southeast Asian champion, Asian Champion really takes a lot of discipline and it starts when you're young, better when you're young," he said, adding that training them young would ensure new blood to replace former champions.
"Kung wala kang grassroots, sino ang papalit sa mga magagaling? Kunwari nagretire si Roberto Kitoy Cruz, sino'ng papalit? Kailangang continuous ang development, kundi hindi ano nang mangyayari?"
Garbin defended the legislation, saying it "will not prevent the training and practice of the different full contact sports by minors, subject to certain guidelines, for recreational and non-competitive sport or for training."
"Ang ayaw natin ay ang full-blown competition where a participant is expected to exert maximum force on a minor without any protection whatsoever," he added.
De Rosario said there are ways to prevent that.
"As far as taekwondo is concerned, ang lagi kong sinasabi is select a very responsible and good instructor. Because the student will eventually emulate their instructor. No. 2, get a certified instructor accredited by the association, so if anything happens, pwede mong habulin ang association," he said.
Del Rosario, a former congressman representing Makati City, said he is open to share his opinion as a resource speaker in Congress if needed.