Press Release
February 4, 2013

Senate proposes retirement, health, death benefits for athletes

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill granting retirement, health care and death benefits to professional athletes who win world championship titles in international professional sports competitions or in other equally prestigious international games.

"Many professional athletes have risked their health and sometimes their very lives for the nation. Their achievements have put the Philippines in the map. But our memories are short," Sen. Koko Pimentel, sponsor of Senate Bill 3322, lamented.

While the athletes are adulated during the peak of their careers, he said, Filipinos easily forget the athletes when they grow old.

He cited boxing champions Rolando Navarette and Luisito Espinosa as examples. He said Navarette today lives in abject poverty, depending on the goodwill of his countrymen for his subsistence while Espinosa works in a casino in California due to managerial missteps and promotional disputes.

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

"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," he added.

The measure proposes retirement benefits for athletes who reach 50 years of age. A lifetime monthly pension of P15,000 will be granted to professional athletes who win international titles in individual events and P10,000 per team member who win in team events. In the event an athlete wins both in the individual and team events, the retirement benefits for individual events shall apply.

"Athletes who are actively employed at the age of 50 and have availed of these retirement benefits may continue with such retirement benefits," according to the measure.

The measure also proposes health insurance coverage for the athletes under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), through a special program sponsored by the Games and Amusement Board. The athletes will be deemed honorary members of the program when they reach the retirement age of 50.

"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 subject to compliance with existing rules and regulations of the PCSO," Pimentel said.

He said primary beneficiaries of a professional athlete will be granted P30,000 to cover funeral services or other expenses upon his death.

Once the proposed legislation is enacted into law, Pimentel added, the benefits under the proposal shall retroact to all living professional Filipino athletes.

Aside from Pimentel, the other authors of the measure include Senate Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito-Estrada and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Miriam Defensor Santiago.

The Senate also passed on third and final reading a bill institutionalizing the Palarong Pambansa as a premier sporting event under the Department of Education.

"As part of the curricula of the basic education, the Palarong Pambansa, which begins from intramurals up to the national level of competition, has become a tool not only for tapping the potential of our youth in sports but in contributing to their value formation," Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, author of Senate Bill 3371, said.

Under the bill, a Palarong Pambansa Board will be created as the lead policy-making body and coordinating body for the preparation, promotion and conduct of the Palarong Pambansa. According to the measure, local government units (LGUs) that will win in the bidding to host the Palarong Pambansa events will be given incentives and appropriate funds will be provided for the continued implementation of the programs under the Act. (PILAR S. MACROHON)

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