Senate OKs boxing and combat sports commission bill on third reading

The 24-member Senate on Monday September 20 approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to establish the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission to ensure the development and safety of Filipino professional boxers and combatants.

Voting 23-0-0, Senate Bill (SB) 2077, or the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission Act of 2021, authored and sponsored by Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, was approved by the chamber.

Under the bill, the commission will be an attached agency of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) for policy and program coordination and shall be composed of the GAB chairpman as the head and the four members from the Department of Health (DOH) and representatives from the professional boxing and combat sports industry.

SB 2077 mandates the creation of the commission which is tasked to support the continued growth of professional boxing and combat sports in the country, encourage the discovery, training and development of world-class professional boxers and combatants, protect and enhance their welfare and make the country an international/regional center for professional boxing and combat sports competition, training, convention and tourism.

Pacquiao said the passage of the measure has long been overdue, emphasizing the need to ensure the safety and protection of boxers and combat sports athletes.

“Time has come for boxing and combat sports to have a separate commission, to give it stability and a clear sense of direction,” Pacquiao said.

The bill mandates all professional boxers and combat sports athletes to be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or PAG-IBIG and shall be entitled to all the benefits in accordance with the law.

In ensuring the safety and health of the fighters, the bill also requires physical, medical and neurologic examinations to certify that the professional boxer or combatant is physically fit and safe to compete and should have emergency medical services in all professional boxing and combat sports match.

The measure also provides a mandatory rest period or an interval after which professional boxers and combatants can already compete in boxing contests and combat sports matches.

SB 2077 also provides alternative livelihood programs for retired and/or injured professional boxers and combatants and the establishment of a trust fund to help enhance and uplift the social and economic opportunities and conditions of present and former sports fighters.

The measure is co-authored by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" F. Zubiri, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Francis “Tol” Tolentino, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.