MANILA, Philippines – Past Filipino sports champions that have long been forgotten may soon receive the benefits and appreciation they deserve through the passage of a Senate bill that will grant them retirement, health, and death benefits.
“Many professional athletes have risked their health and sometimes their very lives for the nation. Their achievements have put the Philippines in the map. But our memories are short,” Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said in a statement Monday.
Pimentel, sponsor of Senate Bill 3322 that was passed on third and final reading, said that the athletes were “adulated during the peak of their careers [but are] easily [forgotten] when they grow old.”
He cited boxing champions Rolando Navarette, who is living in poverty, and Luisito Espinosa, who is working in a casino in California after problems in his career, as reasons for the filing of the bill.
“Something must be done to make concrete our country’s appreciation for the honor that our Filipino champion athletes have brought to the country,” Pimentel said.
“This bill seeks to provide more than lip service to professional athletes who have dedicated their careers to the nation and who have brought prestige to our country,” he said.
The bill, if made into law, will provide a lifetime monthly pension to athletes at least 50 years of age. Professional athletes who win international titles will get P15,000 while P10,000 will be granted for each member of a team that wins.
The athletes will also be deemed honorary members of a special program of the Games and Amusement Board with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
“In case of hospitalization of an athlete, any amount incurred in excess of the PhilHealth benefit shall be shouldered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO),” Pimentel said.
A grant of P30,000 will also be given to beneficiaries of professional athletes to cover funeral services upon death, he said.
The benefits from the bill will cover all living professional Filipino athletes once it is enacted into law.