VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur -- President Rodrigo Duterte underscored the importance of sports in shaping the youth when he delivered his speech at the opening of the 2018 Palarang Pambansa on Sunday at the Quirino Stadium here.
Duterte said sports play a vital role in keeping the youth from treading the delinquent path and making them responsible citizens of the country.
"Sports serves as an avenue to divert the youth from illegal drugs, criminality and other lawless acts," Duterte said before approximately 15,000 student athletes and coaches from 17 regions.
"We in government continue our campaign to eradicate these social ills to ensure a safe and progressive tomorrow for you and for the next generations."
Duterte wasted no time in lauding the student-athletes, who spent many months preparing for the annual sports spectacle organized by the Department of Education.
Reaching this status at a young age, the strongman said, has already made them winners.
"The fact that you are here with us today is enough proof of your determination and excellence in your chosen sports, and that makes all of you winners and champions already," he said.
But he also urged the athletes to put premium on academics.
"While you devote yourselves in sports, do your best to excel in your studies too," he said.
"Your ability to balance academics and your other interests measures your aptitude for skills such as multi-tasking, time management and decision-making-skills that you will need as you take on greater responsibilities in the future."
Duterte assured the government will encourage and support sports programs such as this which is an important building block in nation-building.
"The government remains steadfast in promoting physical education, encouraging sports programs and supporting athletes, especially as they compete in international events," he said.