Albay representative and House Ways and Means committee chairman Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday, August 7, assured athletes that his committee would begin deliberating and approve the proposed “Hidilyn Diaz Act of 2021”, which seeks to exempt rewards, bonuses, and other forms of emoluments for national athletes and coaches from all taxes, fees, and charges.
The substitute bill will amend Republic Act 10699, or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act, Salceda said.
Bills were filed on the matter in light of the gold medal win of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Philippines’ first gold medal in the history of the Olympics.
“The honor that Filipino athletes have brought to the country this year is immense and historic. So unprecedented is this honor that it appears our laws were unable to anticipate the outpouring of material solidarity from different sectors of society for winning athletes and coaches,” Salceda said in the bill.
“We will do it on Monday. We will probably approve it, too since no one is opposed,” he vowed.
“We are trying to rush this because time is of the essence. The blow-outs are starting to come in,” he said.
During the tax panel’s meeting earlier, Salceda ordered the consolidation of all pending bills on the matter.
Salceda also stressed the importance of investing in the Philippine Olympic Committee to help Filipino athletes win in the quadrennial games.
“Of course, the tax law is good, but we need to invest in our athletes before they win. That’s the way to get more podium finishes. They need help during training, not after they win,” Salceda said.
“Under past presidents, we budgeted only around P230 to P260 million to the POC during Olympics. Certainly, this was the case during the past two administrations. In fact, even PGMA gave higher budgets to the POC than under PNOY. Under President Duterte, the budget for the POC is at P944 million for this year, almost four times the budgets under past presidents,” he cited.
“So, of course it makes a difference, and it really makes the case for strong investment in our athletes,” Salceda added.