The Philippine Sports Commission is getting a boost from the Senate in the government agency’s bid to secure P3.7 billion in funding for the complete rehabilitation of the decades-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
In the PSC’s corner with supportive arguments are Sen. Christopher ‘Bong’ Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports; Sen. Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara, chairman of the Committee on Finance; and Sen. Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking.
“We are thankful to Senator Go and the esteemed members of the Senate for rallying behind the PSC’s pursuit of budget increase for 2024. We look forward to elevating our athletes to new heights with this support,” said PSC Chairman Richard Bachmann.
Also the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. Go expressed his concern at the disparity between the proposed budget for the PSC from the Department of Budget and Management compared to the overall appropriations for the entire national budget, pointing out DBM only approved P200 million for the sports body for 2024, a mere 0.004% of the proposed national budget.
Sen. Go questioned the reason given behind such low allocation considering the significant role of sports in nation-building and the high expectations placed on Filipino athletes in international competitions.
“Napapansin ko lang po, kapag nagsa-submit sila sa DBM ng P3 billion, pagdating sa Committee (on Finance), sasabihin sa amin, P200 million lang ang na-approve. Umaasa po sila sana madagdagan po ang kanilang pondo,” said Sen. Go.
The successful hosting of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in promoting the country’s image internationally cannot be overemphasized enough, Sen. Go said, making it imperative for the government to rethink the low priority with which it regards sports, in general, and athletes, in particular.
The senator also bared that the National Sports Development Fund, primarily sourced from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), remains insufficient for the needs of the athletes and the rehabilitation of aging sports facilities, like the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, which opened to the public in 1934.
“Ine-expect nga natin sa mga atleta natin na makapagbigay ng honor sa atin. ‘Di po ‘yun nabibigyan ng halaga masyado sa ating budget. Mas marami pang nauuna na hindi gaano ka-importante. Dapat bigyan po natin ng importansya ang ating atleta na nagbibigay ng honor sa ating bansa.”
Sen. Angara, a staunch supporter of increased sports funding, expressed hope for the DBM to also give more consideration to the sports sector in future budgets, while lauding Sen. Go’s strong advocacy for the sports sector.
Lending her voice to the strong stand of her Senate colleagues, Sen. Cayetano stressed the value of sports in nation-building and the potential impact on youth development. She also emphasized the importance of tracking the benefits of sports engagement in preventing drug addiction and fostering national unity, as evidenced during international competitions.
“Sports play a vital role in nation-building. With our athletes given the necessary support, the betterment of Philippine sports is within reach,” concluded Bachmann, thanking the Senate as it submitted the PSC budget for plenary approval on Tuesday, November 14.