A BUDGET of P200 million has been allocated for the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa 2024 in Cebu City, a local official said Friday, Feb. 2, 2024.
The executive department asked for the P200 million for the purpose of the national multi-sport youth event, which was approved by the Cebu City Council in one of its regular sessions, Cebu City Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros said in an interview after a press conference on the event.
“Other departments had their budgets slashed, but not the budget for the Palarong Pambansa,” said Hontiveros, who is chairman of the council’s committee on education, science and technology.
Hontiveros added that just like Sinulog 2024, Mayor Michael Rama wanted to have pre- and post-activities for the Palarong Pambansa.
“What the mayor wants is two weeks to hype up the Palaro and a week after, to promote the province,” he said.
The press conference was held after Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte and Rama signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa 2024 at the Community Hall on the ninth floor of the executive building of Cebu City Hall.
Duterte said elementary and high school student athletes were again given the chance to compete and shine during the Palarong Pambansa held in Marikina City in 2023 after a four-year hiatus.
The holding of the largest sports meet in the country was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last host of the Palaro before its hiatus was Davao City in 2019.
Duterte said the signing of the MOA Friday has paved the way for the holding of the 64th edition of the Palarong Pambansa.
This would be Cebu City’s third time to host the event. Cebu City first hosted the Palarong Pambansa in 1954. It hosted the games for the second time in 1994.
During the press conference at the Cebu City Hall Community Hall on Friday, Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary and Secretary General for the Palarong Pambansa Francis Cesar Bringas said DepEd would also provide financial assistance to the host region and participating regions.
The press conference was also attended by DepEd Assistant Secretary Dexter Galvan, DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez, and Cebu City Sports Commission Chairman John Pages.
Bringas said the financial assistance for the Palaro starts at the level of the divisions, with DepEd giving financial support to the division offices in their participation in the regional meets, and then the national Palaro.
He said the financial aid also covers the support for billeting schools, billeting houses, and sports equipment.
On the part of Cebu City, Pages said, without disclosing the exact amount, the budget will cover the improvement of the sports facilities, the rehabilitation of the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), the billeting quarters with about 20 schools to be used for the purpose, as well as the procurement of sports equipment.
Bringas said the final date for the Palarong Pambansa is not clear yet, as there are still ongoing consultations regarding the school calendar, which would still need to be approved.
He said based on the current school calendar, the original schedule for the Palarong Pambansa is still in August.
“If there is going to be an adjustment in the school calendar, there is going to be a consequential adjustment for the Palarong Pambansa. For now, we don’t have a final date yet,” Bringas said.
Earlier, it had been expected that the Palarong Pambansa would be held in July, as the 2023 games held in Marikina, Metro Manila, had begun in July.
To prepare for the event, Pages said they are focusing on the rehabilitation of sports facilities, including the swimming pool and the rubberized oval track at the CCSC.
Pages said majority of the games will be held indoors, given the fact that there are several universities in Cebu City where various games might be conducted.
Asked about the target completion date for the rehabilitation of the CCSC, Pages said they will reopen the center in April, just in time for the regional meet of the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVIRAA).
The CCSC has been closed for renovation and improvement since May 2023 to make it ready for the Palaro.
The playing venues have been divided into three hubs: the downtown hub, South Road Properties (SRP) hub, and northern hub. Pages said the average distance from the CCSC to these other playing venues is 3.7 kilometers.
The downtown hub includes the University of San Carlos, Cebu Coliseum, CCSC, Cebu Eastern College, University of the Visayas and Cebu Institute of Technology-University.
The SRP hub includes SM Seaside City Cebu and the Filinvest property where the Sinulog Festival was held last month.
Pages did not go into details regarding the northern hub.
Bringas said they expect Cebu to offer world-class sports facilities during the Palarong Pambansa.
“I know in the Visayas, Cebu is the center for sports. You have been hosting several other international sports events. Our learners will be learning how to play in world-class facilities,” he said.
“We want a world-class staging of the 2024 Palarong Pambansa, and we do not expect any less from Cebu City,” he added.
As the host local government unit for the Palaro, Cebu City has to facilitate the sourcing of funds for the necessary expenses in hosting the sports meet, specifically the funding for the construction and renovation of sports facilities, billeting quarters and other
According to Section B of the MOA, Cebu City is also responsible for the following:
Providing the regional delegations with educational trips, souvenir items, among others;
Providing all the trophies and medals for all sporting events, but the Palaro Board may also give cash incentives to the athletes or coaches, subject to the availability of funds;
Providing funding for honoraria or supplemental allowances to members of the national technical working committees, as well as technical officiating officials; and
Providing funding for any other related expenses, over the amounts allocated by the Board, subject to the usual budgeting, accounting, and auditing rules and regulations.
The City is required to ensure the readiness and availability of the sports facilities, playing venues and billeting quarters for the duration of the 2024 Palarong Pambansa; as well as to coordinate with DepEd on the technical aspects of the facilities for the different sports events and billeting areas.
The City must also ensure the availability of technical facilities, equipment, materials and/or playing venues which are (a) of international standards or, whenever available, those that were used in recent international competition/s; (b) well secured, accessible and free to the general viewing public; and (c) with grandstands, bleachers or viewing areas.