PSC eyes Pagcor help for athletes’ allowances

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    THE Philippine Sports Commission will make a special request to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. for P200 million in financial assistance to maintain the level of the allowances of 1,820 athletes and 320 coaches in the national pool until December.

    PSC chairman Butch Ramirez made the announcement yesterday during the historic first online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum, which had been shelved for nearly three months because of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the deadly novel corona virus.

    “We will ask PAGCOR for an additional P200 million so we can retain the same allowances for athletes and coaches. We have had a good relationship with PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo and we are hopeful they will consider our request,” Ramirez said in the public sports program backed by Amelie Hotel, San Miguel Corp, PAGCOR, Braska Restaurant, Go for Gold and powered by Smart.

    The five-man PSC board last week reduced the allowances of national pool members by 50 percent across the board, citing the huge reduction of PAGCOR’s monthly remittances to the government sports agency in the wake of the government quarantine that banned onsite gambling in hotels and casinos since mid-March.

    PAGCOR remitted a meager P9 million to the PSC last April, a far cry from the regular P150 to P200 million monthly the latter got in normal times.

    “The total amount the PSC spends monthly for their allowances is around P30 million, so if we get the extra P200 million that would last until December under the present scheme,” said Ramirez, who was grateful that majority of the national pool members remained positive despite the cost-cutting move.

    “Nagpasalamat pa rin sila dahil mayroon pa ring silang matatanggap despite the problem that the PSC is facing,” he said, adding that they intend to revert back to the current payouts once PAGCOR’s remittances return to normal. “This will be retroactive to all the members in the national pool.”

    Ramirez also noted that some of the members in the national pool are enlisted personnel who get regular salaries from their respective military units and are in better financial shape than the rest.

    Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino, a Tagaytay congressman who also graced the PSA virtual session, said that had he been aware of the predicament of the athletes “perhaps we could have included these athletes in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

    “They are ones who gave honor to our country, especially during the last SEA Games when we won the overall championship. Di naman malaki ‘ying amount needed by the athletes until December.”

    Ramirez said they have terminated the services of their consultants and community sports coordinators nationwide under their grassroots sports program with the Philippine Sports Institute in the wake of the financial crunch.

    Ramirez said that until no vaccine is available “the PSC will not organize any events for the rest of the year, and we will require our national athletes and coaches to undergo testing before they can train together again.”

    He was proud of the PSC’s contribution to the virus crisis, converting facilities such as the Ninoy Aquino Stadium and Rizal Memorial Sports Coliseum inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the Philsports Arena in Pasig City as quarantine facilities.

    Ramirez was uncertain how long these arenas would be used as such, adding that all of them would be properly disinfected once the athletes return to training.