Boxing, horseracing back in business

July 10, 2020
Usapang Sports on Air
GAB chairman Bahan Mitra and YFL president Mike Atayde are the special guests in Thursday' s TOPS "Usapang Sports on Air."

DESPITE concerns about surging coronavirus cases all over the country, sports are slowly but surely hitting the road back to recovery.

In fact, boxing and horseracing -- two sports closest to the Filipinos’ heart -- are coming back sooner than expected.

Games and Amusements Board (GAB) Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra delivered the good news to allay fears of professional athletes now struggling to make both ends meet due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

“Magandang balita. Both boxing and horseracing have been given the green light to resume by the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases),” said Mitra during the weekly “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids  Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.

“Like the PBA and the Philippine Football  League, aprubado na sa IATF-EID ang dalawang sports na ito,” added Mitra in the two-hour public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Mitra claimed no less than Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo Año and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello supported the decision to allow pro boxing to resume.

“Initially, there was a confusion dahil hindi naisama ang boxing sa nai-announce na mga approved sports. Pero sabi nga natin sa IATF, sa boxing, no fight, no pay ang mga ’yan. Apat na buwan ng walang trabaho yun mga boksingero natin,” explaine  Mitra.

“Aprubado na din po ang pag-biyahe ng ating mga boxers para makalaban sa abroad. Ipinaliwanag naman natin na tulad ng mga OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers), kabuhayan  at karangalan ng bansa ang nakataya sa  paglaban nila sa abroad.”

Mitra, however, clarified that inter-island boxing promotions are still not allowed based on safety protocols.

“I’m now calling on all  our boxing promoters, matchmakers at organizers. Mga kaibigan natin silang lahat. Pinayagan na tayo kaya sumunod tayo. Wag muna tayong dumayo. Kung sa GenSan, mga taga-GenSan lang muna ang maglaban-laban. Bawal muna ang mga taga-Davao or ibang lugar. Sa  ibang bansa, gaya sa Japan at Thailand, ganyan muna ang ginagawa.”

Mitra, a three-time lawmaker from Palawan, said boxing promoters could even discover new talents if they concentrate on provincial fights.

Mitra  also said horseracing will return on July 19 at Metro Turf.

“Actully, malaking sakripisyo din ito sa industriya ng karera. Medyo pa-lugi dahil  limitado ang mga OTB (off-track betting) stations dahil sa madaming areas na under GCQ pa din. As we all know,  about 85 percent of the sales sa karera ng kabayo nasa OTB,” explained Mitra.

“Pero konting tiyaga lang, lalo na napayagan na tayo. Nabigyan naman na din natin ang mga OTBs na kaukulang protocols.”

But cockfighting, another favorite sport of the Filipinos, will have to wait a little longer.

“Mahirap pa yun sa cockfighting. Hindi pa accepted ng IATF. Sa ngayon nasa TWG (Technical Working Group) pa yun mga safety protocols na ipinadala natin, kasabay ng sa basketball, boxing at footbal last June 10."

“Yun concern is the safety standard sa mga sabungan, yun social distancing at madami pa. Pero malaki ang tsansa  na mapayagan din ito under the new  normal, basta sumunod lang sa mga safety protocols."

Mitra said the  Association of Cockfighting Pit Owners and Operators already submitted to IATF thru GAB  their safety protocols.

“Nag-aaya nga  sila (cockpit owners) na bisitahin yun mga sabungan para maipakita nila yun  mga ginagawa nilang safety  protocols para masunod yun IATF,” said Mitra.

GAB will also sit down with NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority)  to validate the industry figures that was presented.

“Cockfighting is a P50-billion industry. Madami din ang naapektuhan ang kabuhayan dito dahil sa pandemic. We told them there are more than 30,000 breeders.  Sa Digmaan, 7,000 na. Sa Bakbakan  9,000. Sa Pitmasters, higit  15,000.

“Malaki din ang naging damage sa cockfighting industry. Nandyan ang Aboitiz, San Miguel Corp., UNILAB at  madam pang ibang malalaking kumpanya.”

Mitra also called for a stop on illegal cockfighting.

“Matagal naman ng bawal ito. Magagalit si President Duterte nito na pipila-pila kayo para humingi ng SAP tapos ipang-sabong lang. Huwag na sana makulit at maka-iwas din sa sakit.”

He said the proposal to hold studio sabong is also now being seriously considered.

“Limang tao lang ang tao nasa loob ng sabungan. -- 2 taga bitaw,  2 taga- tari at yun sentenciador.”