MANILA, Philippines -- With Filipino athletes set to compete in several high profile events in 2021 -- including the Tokyo Olympics -- Senators have expressed their support for additional funding for the national team.
Sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara, the Philippine Sports Commission's budget for 2021 passed the senate's plenary deliberations on Friday, and several legislators backed the calls for giving more funds to the national athletes.
"May I request the sponsors to add a bit of budget for the Olympics and the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games," said Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri. "I think minuscule ang budget and we need to support the athletes."
According to Zubiri, he received favorable responses from Senators Joel Villanueva, Nancy Binay, Francis Tolentino and Angara. He also expressed his confidence that the funds will be managed properly under the leadership of PSC Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez.
"The Chairman of the PSC does his best and he has done it with limited resources. But I must put on record Mr. President, the Chairman of the PSC's credibility is untainted in the last four years he has handled the PSC," said Zubiri.
"Even the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) members have no question about his leadership in handling of funds," he added. "I really truly appreciate the leadership of Chairman Ramirez."
Binay, one of the senators who supported Zubiri's move, expressed her hope that there is ample budget to send enough athletes to the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam, to give them a chance to defend their titles.
The Philippines had dominated the 30th SEA Games on home soil, with Filipino athletes delivering a record 149 gold medals. It was the first time the Philippines emerged as overall champions since 2005, the last time the country hosted the biennial competition.
"We are deeply touched by our senators’ support. We thanked them for recognizing the important role sports play in nation building, as well as recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of our athletes," said Ramirez.
The PSC budget covers funds for five major international competitions scheduled for 2021: the 32nd Summer Olympics, 31st SEA Games, Asian Beach Games, Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games and the Paralympics.
Four Filipinos are assured of qualification to the Tokyo Games: pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial. Several others, including weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, are in line to qualify.
Meanwhile, Binay as well as Senator Franklin Drilon inquired about the submission of the financial report on the SEA Games, both on government and private funds. Both Angara and Ramirez assured the senators that the audited financial report will be available by mid-December as the sports agency has already demanded submission of this from private partners in the SEA Games.
Senators Pia Cayetano and Francis Pangilinan also asked for documents on the per capita expense on each Olympian and data on how much other countries spend on sports respectively, for reference and comparison.
The PSC budget is expected to once again go through scrutiny when the bicameral conference committee convenes to agree on a unified bill, which upon ratification will then be passed for study and approval of the President.