MANILA, Philippines - Boxing hero and now Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao is batting for more benefits for Filipino athletes, especially for those who are in dire need of government support.
Pacquiao, the vice-chairman of the House committee on youth and sports, said he will propose amendments to Republic Act 9064 or the Sports Incentives Law to help the likes of retired amateur boxers Leopoldo Serrantes and Anthony Villanueva.
“We're going to review and revise the bill para mabago natin at madagdagan at mapalaki ang mga incentive ng mga atleta nating nagbigay ng pangalan sa Pilipinas,” the congressman said.
Both Serrantes and Villanueva brought honor and glory to the Philippines by winning medals in the Olympics.
Serrantes nabbed a bronze medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics while Villanueva won silver in the 1964 edition of the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Despite these achievements, both boxers remain poor.
The 48-year-old Serrantes now suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He uses a small oxygen tank so he can breathe properly.
Villanueva, now 65, has half of his body paralyzed because of a stroke. He can barely stand and can only speak a few short words.
Pacquiao said he is now working to increase their pension and medical benefits through an amendment to R.A. 9064.
“Maraming atletang Pilipino na hindi kasing palad ko… humihingi lang ng tulong sa gobyerno, pag-aaralan natin yung bill na na-ipasa,” he said. – With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News