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Senators root for more funds for national athletes

Sen. Angara
Sen. Angara

SENATORS expressed their support to add more funding for the national team in yesterday’s Senate plenary budget hearing on the Philippine Sports Commission’s 2021 budget.

Sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara, the PSC’s budget passed the senate’s plenary deliberations Friday, with several legislators manifesting their support for additional budget on sports.

May I request the sponsors to add a bit of budget for the Olympics and the SEA Games. I think minuscule ang budget and we need to support the athletes,” said Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri. He related that he already got favorable responses from Senators Joel Villanueva, Nancy Binay, Francis Tolentino and Angara.

Zubiri supported his request by assuring the senate that the funds will be managed properly, praising the leadership of PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez.

The Chairman of the PSC does his best and he has done it with limited resources. But I must put on record Mr. President, the Chairman of the PSC’s credibility is untainted in the last four years he has handled the PSC. Even the POC members have no question about his leadership in handling of funds,” said Zubiri, adding in jest that Ramirez wanted to handle the least fund possible as he “was afraid na pagalitan siya ng Presidente kung may mawala at hindi ma-account na pondo. So, I really truly appreciate the leadership of Chairman Ramirez.

When he took to the floor, Villanueva said “I hope that we can do more for sports not only because we can win medals in the SEA Games or the Olympics, but because sports is such a unifying force. It gives so much hope to our countrymen and our people, especially for the young people of our nation.

Sen. Imee Marcos echoed these sentiments, thanking the PSC and Ramirez for all that has been done for sports.

Sen.Nancy Binay, who started by congratulating the PSC for the “record-breaking number of medals during the least SEA Games,” expressed her hope that there is ample budget to send enough number of athletes to the SEA Games in Vietnam so they can have the chance to defend their titles.

We are deeply touched by our senators’ support. We thanked them for recognizing the important role sports play in nation building, as well as recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of our athletes,” commented Ramirez who was physically present for the hearing.

The budget of the sports agency covers, among others, funds for five major international competitions all slated in 2021, namely the 32nd Summer Olympics, 31st SEA Games, Asian Beach Games, Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games and the Paralympics, as explained by Angara upon the clarification of Sen. Frank Drilon regarding the increase in requested funds to 688.4 Million.

Drilon wanted to make sure that athletes have enough funds for these important competitions.

Drilon, along with Binay, also inquired about the submission of the financial report on the SEAG, both on government and private funds.

Both Angara and Ramirez assured the senators that the audited financial report will be available by mid-December as the sports agency has already demanded submission of this from private partners in the SEAG.

Angara personally expressed to Ramirez his elation on his colleagues’ support for PSC and the national team, as well as his appreciation of the PSC’s efforts. Chairman on Health and Sports Senator Bong Go, also expressed his pleasure on the manifestation of support from legislators, while Sen. Dick Gordon reminded everyone not to forget that grassroots sports is equally important and must also be given support.

Senators Pia Cayetano and Francis Pangilinan asked for documents on the per capita expense on each Olympian and data on how much other countries spend on sports respectively, for reference and comparison.

In the same hearing, Zubiri sought the help of Ramirez to lobby for the inclusion of Arnis in the Vietnam SEAG.

The Philippine Arnis team was the highest medal hauler in the 2019 SEAG, winning 20 medals in total, 14 gold, 4 silvers and 2 bronzes.

Ramirez assured the senator and Philippine Eskrima Kali Federation (PEKAF) President’s support.

The host country has the biggest say on which sport goes in on the Games’ calendar.

The PSC budget is expected to once again go through scrutiny when the bicameral conference committee convenes to agree on a unified bill, which upon ratification will then be passed for study and approval of the President.