Press Release
December 19, 2012

Granting Benefits to Professional Filipino Athletes
with World Championship Titles

(Sponsorship Speech of Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Martin L. Pimentel III, 19 December 2012)

Mr. President, as Chairman of the Committee on Games and Amusement, this representation humbly submits before this august Chamber for consideration Senate Bill No. 3322 under Committee Report No. 462, titled "An Act Granting Retirement, Health Care and Death Benefits to Professional Filipino Athletes Who Win World Championship Titles in International Professional Sports Competitions or in Other Equally Prestigious International Games and Providing Funds Therefor."


Many professional athletes have risked their health and sometimes their very lives for the nation. The great honor that our boxing legends such as Manny Pacquiao, Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, the Velasco Brothers, and the latest Filipino boxing sensation, Nonito Donaire, among others, have brought to the country in the international arena cannot be overlooked. Their achievements placed the Philippines in the world boxing map.

Of course, we have a number of undeniable world-class talents in other sports: "Asia's Fastest Woman" Lydia de Vega, six-time World Bowling Champion Paeng Nepomuceno, and "The International Billiard Magician" Efren "Bata" Reyes to name a few. The list is endless, but our memories are short.

Our champions may receive adulation throughout their lives, but they deserve tangible benefits from the country especially when the fame and glory die down. The careers of former World Boxing Champions Rolando Navarette and Luisito Espinosa are cases in point. Navarette has been reduced to the life of a pauper-dependent on charitable gestures from his countrymen for his subsistence and medical expenses. Meanwhile, managerial missteps and promotional disputes left Espinosa with little, and he now works at a casino in California.

Something must be done to make concrete our country's appreciation for the honor that our Filipino champion athletes have brought to the country.

Hence, this bill seeks to provide more than lip service to professional athletes who have dedicated their careers to the nation, and who have brought prestige to our country.


In line with the declared policy of the State to give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote human liberation and development, this proposed legislation seeks to extend retirement, health care, and death benefits to Filipino professional athletes who have won world championship titles in international professional sports competitions or in other equally prestigious world championship games, in both individual or team events.

This legislation was prepared in conjunction with the Committee on Finance, with Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Miriam Defensor Santiago as my co-authors. This substitute bill consolidates Senate Bill No. 258 by Sen. Trillanes IV and SB No. 2741 by Sen. Defensor Santiago.


Under this proposal, professional Filipino athletes who have won international titles are entitled to receive the following retirement benefits upon reaching the age of fifty (50): For individual events, a lifetime monthly pension of at least Fifteen Thousand Pesos (Php15,000.00); and for Team Events, a lifetime monthly pension of at least Ten Thousand Pesos (Php10,000.00) for each team member.

If a professional athlete has won both in individual and team events, the retirement benefits for individual events shall apply.

Athletes who are actively employed at the age of fifty (50) and have availed of these retirement benefits may continue with such employment. Furthermore, retirement benefits under this proposed measure shall be separate and distinct from the mandatory retirement benefits provided by existing laws or pursuant to company policies.

Professional Filipino athletes, immediately upon winning an international professional sports competition, shall be covered by the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), through a special program sponsored by the Games and Amusement Board. Upon reaching the age of fifty (50), the athlete shall be deemed an honorary member of the program and shall continue to be covered by PhilHealth insurance subject to the rules and regulations of PhilHealth without losing their right to receive the other benefits mentioned herein.

In case of hospitalization of an athlete, any amount incurred in excess of the PhilHealth benefit shall be shouldered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) under its Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP), subject to compliance with existing rules and regulations of PCSO. The qualified beneficiary shall have the option of waiving these benefits.


Upon the death of a professional Filipino athlete, his primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump-sum death benefit of Thirty Thousand Pesos (Php 30,000.00) to cover funeral services or other expenses.


Finally, the benefits provided under this proposal shall retroact to all living professional athletes who, prior to the enactment of this Act, have won in an international professional sports competition. This shall be in compliance with the requirements that shall be prescribed by the Games and Amusement Board in its Implementing Rules and Regulations.


Mr. President considering the vital role of our professional Filipino athletes in fostering patriotism and nationalism, and the need for us lawmakers to promote policies that aim to promote their holistic well-being, I request the expeditious approval of this measure.

Salamat po.

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