Allowances of athletes, coaches reduced by half

    Butch Ramirez, Philippine Sports Commission.

    A TOTAL of 1,820 athletes and 382 coaches will have their allowances cut by half as a result of cost-saving measures approved by the Philippine Sports Commission due to the drastic reduction of remittances coming from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

    This decision was reached by the PSC board after its online meeting last Friday presided over by Chairman Butch Ramirez.

    “This is a hard decision to make, but one that needed to be done so we can continue caring for our athletes longer,” Ramirez said.

    “PAGCOR remitted only P9 million last April, a huge drop in our revenue after onsite gambling in all casinos and hotels was halted with the Luzon lockdown last March,” Commissioner Ramon Fernandez said.

    PAGCOR’s monthly remittances to the PSC averaged from P150 to P200 million until the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country hard and forced a lockdown, severely affecting onsite gambling at casinos and hotels.

    Under the previous stipend classification scheme, Olympic qualifiers such as pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno got a monthly allowance of P43,000 that will now be reduced to P21,500.

    Obiena, however, was given a lifeline after the PSC approved a P2 million grant to subsidize the Italy-based athlete’s training and competitions until August of next year in his build-up to the rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

    Asian Games gold medalists such as weightlifter Hidylin Diaz and skateboarder Margielyn Arda Didal, who are also in the hunt for Olympic slots, were originally entitled to a monthly allowance of P36,000 each and would now get P17,500 instead.

    All Southeast Asian Games medalists who were entitled to a monthly stipend of P27,000 will now receive P13,500, with SEA Games silver and bronze medalists getting corresponding cuts as well.

    As part of its cost-cutting measures, the government sports agency earlier laid off its consultants and sports coordinators in the Philippine Sports Institute.

    “We intend to preserve whatever meager resources we have so that our athletes can receive stipends until December, unless things return to normal,” Ramirez stressed.

    There was also some good news from the PSC. Ramirez said athletes and coaches in the national pool can now avail of the 20 percent discount in purchases under Republic Act 10699, the new incentives law, after the Bureau of Internal Revenue approved its implementing rules and regulations last May 27.

    “We have been looking forward to this and are very happy that our athletes will now enjoy the privilege they deserve,” Ramirez noted.

    He added the discounts covering purchases for food, medicine, recreation centers, hotel, lodging establishments and sports equipment will apply once BIR Revenue Regulation 13-2020 is published in the official government gazette and two newspapers with nationwide circulation.

    Special ID cards and a booklet where athletes and coaches can list their purchases, similar to those given to senior citizens, are now in the process of being prepared and issued.