Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said that arnis should be a featured sport when the Philippines hosts the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2019. Zubiri is the author of Republic Act 9850 also known as Arnis Law that declares arnis as the Philippines’ national martial art and sport.
“It will be a sin for us not to have arnis in the SEA Games in 2019,” said the 48-year old Senator and arnis practitioner. Zubiri, an arnis champion during his younger days recently led the 1st Arnis Congress at the Philippine Red Cross Multi-Purpose Hall in Mandaluyong City on Thursday.
Zubiri recalled that during the 1991 SEA Games in Manila, The Philippines won 16 gold medals in arnis.
“There is a chance that we will be in the Top 3 of the medal standing if we can include arnis in 2019,” he said.
Arnis was again a demonstration sport during the 2005 SEA Games in Manila.
Zubiri said that arnis has a strong presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Based on the SEA Games policy, the host country has discretion to add any sport provided that at least three countries will be competing in the event.
Zubiri said that he would be closely working with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for arnis to be included anew in the SEA Games.
“What we are going to do with the PSC is to work with organizations around the region so that we will not receive any objections from them,” said Zubiri.
PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez assigned PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez to oversee the arnis project.
“We will be fully supportive of arnis. We have a law making arnis as our national martial art and sport and it should be what we are propagating,” Fernandez said.