MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines' national athletes and coaches will soon receive their full allowances again, after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) earlier this month.
Among the provisions of the bill is the allocation of P180-million funding for sports, which would revert the allowances of national athletes and coaches back to 100%.
"Nagulat ako noong nalaman ko na may slash ang allowances starting July up to November," said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, who is also the representative of the eighth district of Cavite.
"Masakit naman para sa ating mga national athletes and coaches, including the para athletes natin," he added.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) was forced to slash the allowances of national team members in half back in July -- a "hard decision" that the agency had to make because of lack of funds.
The National Sports Development Fund (NSDF), which relies on remittances from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), was diminished as the casino operations shut down. From an average of P120 million a month, the gaming agency's remittances to the PSC fell to a low of P7 million in July.
Tolentino said he proposed and sponsored the inclusion of the provision to benefit the over 1,600 national athletes and coaches in the country.
"This was my idea and I sponsored it, even without PSC asking for it, with due respect to PSC," said Tolentino during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday. "We computed it through the PSC, and more or less, nasa P20 million per month."
"So kung P20 million ang involved diyan, that will be for six months from July to December, that's P120 million. Ang pina-aprubahan ko is P180 million," he added.
The PSC still needs to submit some requirements to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) before the funds will be released. If the requirements are passed by October, then the national athletes and coaches will retroactively receive four months' worth of allowances, from July to October.
"Then, sunod-sunod na 'yun, November, December. That's it," said Tolentino.
"Sana, malaking tulong sa mga atleta natin na nagbigay ng karangalan sa ating bansa, especially the last SEA Games," he added. "Ito pang mga darating, para 'di naman sila ma-down morally na nadamay din sila sa pandemic."
Aside from their allowances, the athletes and coaches are also entitled to P5,000 pandemic assistance each under the Bayanihan Act 2.
The PSC's roster includes 996 athletes, 262 coaches, 280 para athletes, and 82 para coaches.