MANILA, Philippines -- Officials of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on Monday expressed their concern over the creation of a Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission.
This, after GAB chairman Baham Mitra and commissioners Eduard Trinidad and Mario Masanguid attended the hearing of the Senate Committee on Sports, to discuss the provisions of Senate Bill No. 193 and Senate Bill No. 805.
The bills, sponsored by Senator Manny Pacquiao, seek the creation of a Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission which the "Pacman" said will help Filipino professional boxers and martial artists.
In March, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, the chairman of the committee, expressed his support for the bills.
"These bills not only aim to strengthen and develop the quality of professional boxing and combat sports in the country but also ensure the protection and welfare of its athletes," Go said at the time.
But Mitra expressed his concern that the new commission will be redundant, as GAB already regulates and supervises professional sports in the Philippines -- which includes boxing and other combat sports, including mixed martial arts.
"While we support the honorable Senator's desire to assist our boxers and combat sports professional athletes, this initiative to create an additional agency may not be a good move, as we are facing a pandemic," said Mitra.
"All government resources and efforts are geared towards that," he said.
In a position paper submitted by GAB to the Senate Committee on Sports, the organization stressed that the creation of a new government agency will lead to the duplication of existing office and functions of the GAB.
The creation of the new commission will also entail unnecessary expenditures on the part of government, as the bills will require P150 million in order to build new offices, hire new employees, and buy office equipment and supplies, among other budgetary requirements.
"We feel that we have already improved our services and applied the many good advices given by the good Senator. In 2017, GAB received an award from the World Boxing Council (WBC), a world leading sanctioning boxing body, as the 'Best Boxing Commission.' Last week, GAB received one of the highest ratings from the Commission on Audit," said Mitra.
Instead of creating an entirely new commission, Trinidad suggested the appointment of a GAB commissioner who will focus entirely on boxing and combat sports.
Masanguid, for his part, said: "Mas makakabuti po siguro kung ang pondong gagamitin para sa pagtatayo ng PBC ay itulong na lamang natin sa mga tao."
The Muay Thai Association of the Philippines (MAP) has already expressed its continued support to GAB, after reviewing the bills proposed by Pacquiao.
"The formulation of a new commission is redundant in its mandate with GAB and will overlap with the existing powers, duties, and functions performed by GAB, thus deeming it irrelevant and unnecessary," said MAP officials in a statement signed by president Gen. Lucas Managuelod and secretary-general Pearl Managuelod.
"MAP sees no benefit in the proposed commission," they stressed.