June 3 ------ THE Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) assured the national athletes that the deducted allowances will be given back once the situation in the country normalizes.
The PSC recently slashed the monthly allowances of athletes by 50 percent owing to the pandemic as funds of the government sports agency were realigned to fight against COVID-19. “Kung sa policy at sa batas, demandable nila ‘yan, ibibigay po namin ‘yan,” said PSC chairman William Ramirez during the resumption of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum via video conference on Tuesday. “Like what happened to our Filipino athletes who are training in other parts of the world. Kung nale-late ‘yung pagawa ng requirements, talagang irereimburse namin ‘yun.”
Ramirez explained the PSC made the difficult decision to cut the allowances of the athletes as funds won’t be available until year-end if the athletes continue to receive their full allowances. “It breaks our hearts,” Ramirez said. “It took us three or four meetings to discuss the reductions in equity. From a very exciting, successful SEA Games, ibababa mo ‘yung allowance. Mabigat pero tinitignan namin ang aming balance as of May. Hindi kami aabot sa December kapag normal na allowance ang ibibigay. Magne-negative kami,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez explained that allowances of athletes come from the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF), the source of which coming from the five percent of the gross revenues of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). But since casinos and other forms of legal gambling are mostly closed due to the quarantine, remittances have also been reduced. Ramirez said the PSC received P99 million from Pagcor in the revenues in March, but it dropped to only P9 million from April. Ramirez is expecting even less remittances from Pagcor from the revenues in the month of May. “Kapag nag-reduce kami ng 50 percent (allowance) according to equity, maiiwan kami ng ilang milyon,” said Ramirez said.
Ramirez is also hoping for understanding since government funds are being redirected to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Sabi nga iba, bakit hindi ka maghanap ng ibang paraan. Eh ang paraan mo normally, ang hihingaan mo, presidente o Kongreso. Kita mo naman ang problema. Even ‘yung GAA (General Appropriations Act) budget na pinasok sa ibang bagay, we offered it and withdrawn for COVID purposes. Talagang walang space for us to ask expect to use your managerial skill. One of the option to reduce,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez is confident that through the PSC’s steady working relationship with Pagcor, they will be able to receive funds for the allowances of the athletes. “Kapag bumalik ‘yan (normal remittance from Pagcor), we are committed. That money sa Republic Act 6847, para talaga sa mga atleta ‘yan. Diyan ang grassroots at elite. Hindi namin puwedeng hindi gastusin ‘yan,” said Ramirez.