MANILA – The House Committee on Games and Amusement has already created a technical working group (TWG) to fine-tune a bill which seeks to grant additional perks and privileges to professional athletes who won in international competitions.
The TWG, which will be headed by PBA Party Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar, will work on House Bill 299 or the proposed “Professional Filipino Athletes Health Care, Retirement and Death Benefits Act.”
The bill, authored by Reps. Horacio Suansing Jr. (2nd District, Sultan Kudarat) and Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), aims to provide health care, retirement and death benefits to professional Filipino athletes who win world championship titles in international professional sports competitions or in other equally prestigious world championship games, in both individual and team events, in recognition of the glory and honor they bestowed to the country.
“Indeed, our champions deserve to receive adulation throughout their lives. But I strongly believe they should also receive concrete benefits and privileges,” said Suansing in his sponsorship speech.
Suansing noted that not many athletes get to play into their 40s. He added that many are not also compensated well during their careers despite huge health risks related to their field.
“Many of them are not able to save enough to sustain themselves after retirement. Many of them struggle to make ends meet,” said the congressman.
He cited the case of world boxing champion Z Gorres who fell into a coma after winning his match. Suansing said Gorres was fortunate that many people contributed to pay the boxer's medical bills.
“But because of what happened, he was never able to return to the boxing ring again and was forced to find other sources of income,” he said.
The proposal provides that immediately upon winning in any international professional sports competitions, professional Filipino athletes shall be covered by the National Health Insurance Program or the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), through a special program sponsored by the Games and Amusement Board, which will provide the required local government premium counterpart to be directly remitted to the PhilHealth.
In case of hospitalization of the professional Filipino athlete in any hospital or clinic, any amount in the excess of the PhilHealth benefit shall be shouldered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) under its Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP).
As for retirement benefits, professional athletes who win in international sports competitions shall, upon reaching the age of 50, receive the following retirement benefits: For individual events – a lifetime monthly pension of at least P15,000 for the individual winner; and for team sports events – a lifetime monthly pension of at least P10,000 for each member team.
Upon the death of the professional Filipino athlete, the primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum death benefit of P30,000 to cover funeral services/expenses.
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