By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Friday pushed for higher allowances for athletes and the improvement of sports facilities in the country to empower athletes to do better.
Angara, who worked for the passage of a law increasing the incentives of winning athletes, coaches and trainors, said it is time that lawmakers pursue increasing the allowances of national athletes. “We should provide them with enough support and assistance to help them develop their potential and empower them to win,” said Angara.
The vice chair of the Senate finance committee sponsored Republic Act No. 10699 that raised the incentives and benefits of winning athletes and coaches. He made the call after listening to the clamor of the 2018 Asian Games medalists who attended the budget hearing of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Thursday.
Angara asked the medalists for their insights on how to improve the state of Philippine sports and on how the government can better help the athletes. A number of the medalists lamented about their meager allowances.
The senator said at present, more than half of the 887 national athletes who belong to the training pool and are receiving a P10,200 monthly allowance.
There are only eight Platinum athletes in the country today, including weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who are getting P45,000 monthly allowance.
“Kasama na sa allowance na ito ang para sa pagkain at tirahan nila, panggastos sa school, at pambili ng mga gamit nila sa sports.(Included in their allowances are expenses for food, shelter, school supplies and sports equipment),” Angara noted.
“Marami rin sa kanila, ipinadadala sa kani-kanilang pamilya ang nakukuha nilang allowance.(Many of them would send their allowances to their families),” said Angara.
Angara is looking into augmenting PSC’s budget to fund a P5,000-increase in the allowance of all the athletes.
During the hearing, gold medalist Margielyn Didal pointed out the lack of training centers in the country while bronze medalist Junna Tsukii said the PhilSports Complex is already “very dirty.”
Because of this, the senator urged the PSC to fast-track the P1-billion rehabilitation of sports facilities that are already dated and rundown, especially the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the PhilSports Complex.
“While we work on the passage of the bill that will kickstart the construction of a state-of-the-art Philippine Amateur Sports Training Center, we urge our sports authorities to speed up the development and rehabilitation of our sports facilities,” said Angara, principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill 1716 that seeks the creation of the amateur sports training center which is now pending on second reading.
“By creating and establishing the Philippine Amateur Sports Training Center, our 800 national athletes and 300 coaches will have a new decent and a much-needed home and venue for elite training that is at par with international standards,” he said.