It was tough for world boxing champ Nesthy Petecio to open and read the news that a bill that seeks to ban minors from taking part in martial art competitions has been proposed at the House of Representatives.
“Ayaw ko siyang i-open,” the 28-year-old admitted in an episode of Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ The Hit List, presented by SMART.
“Ayaw ko siyang tignan, kasi nga alam kong negative na naman po siya. Ayaw ko tumanggap ng mga negative na news po ngayon lalo na wala kaming laro, tapos dadagdagan pa ng negative news.“
But being informed is the best way to go, so she ultimately decided to read about House Bill no. 1526, titled Banning Minors from Full-Contact Competitive Sports and authored by Ako Bicol Reps. Alfredo Garbin Jr. and Elizaldy Co.
The authors elaborated through an explanatory note that while they acknowledge the benefits and values the minors could get from participating in such sports, they also see “the paramount need to protect the minors.”
For the two lawmakers, they believe that minors are “incapacitated to give consent nor can they waive any right of action for injuries inflicted upon them during and in connection with such activities.”
Classified under full-contact sports are boxing, wushu, jiu-jitsu, muaythai, judo, karate, taekwondo, wrestling, arnis, kickboxing, and pencak silat.
Petecio, who rose to fame after striking gold in the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, said that she understood what the bill aims to do.
“Nung binasa ko po siya, kumbaga may positive at negative na pumasok sa utak ko.
“Sa positive way, gusto nilang protektahan yung mga bata kasi sa amin nga sa boxing may namatay na youth na hindi inaasahan,” she said.
What Petecio recalled perhaps was the death of 16-year-old student boxer Jonas Garcia in 2013 after days in a coma following the second round of a match at the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association in Iba, Zambales.
That led to the Department of Education scrapping boxing in the elementary division of the Palarong Pambansa the following year.
But while she understands where the authors are coming from, Petecio is more worried about combat sports moving forward — once the bill gets passed.
The Davao City-born pugilist, who first took up boxing at a young age of seven, is particularly concerned at how the future of Philippine boxing will look like if children will be prohibited from trying out the sport.
“Kung iisipin niyo po, kami-kaming beterano, tumatanda na din po talaga kami. So, sino ‘yung susunod sa amin pag nag retire na po kami?” said the 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist.
“Paano ‘yung next generation, kung pagbabawalan nila yung mga bata na ma-develop, mag-bloom pa, makakuha ng opportunites na mas maging okay pa sila?” she continued.
“Hindi ko po alam kung tama ba itong desisyon nila, kung mali ba ito. Basta ang sa akin lang, paano po ‘pag … wala pong susunod sa mga yapak namin or walang papalit sa amin kapag tinuloy po nila yan? So ang hirap po.”