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Lawmaker pushes for Department of Sports following historic Olympic wins

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE AUTHOR of a bill seeking the creation of a Department of Sports, filed in 2018, is now pushing for the law’s passage following the gold medal win of weightlifter Hidilyn F. Diaz and guaranteed medal for boxer Nesthy A. Petecio at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“With the creation of the Department of Sports, there will be a dedicated function and budget to put as many infrastructures as possible because, if you look at it, our athletes need to train outside of the Philippines because we don’t have any infrastructure,” Deputy Speaker Michael Odylon L. Romero, author of House Bill 920, said in a press conference Wednesday.

Mr. Romero said that to create “elite” athletes, the national government would need at least P10 billion annually, with P9 billion to be spent on building training centers while P1 billion will be used to fund local athletes.

Malacanang has acknowledged that government funding for local athletes has been insufficient, with Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque Jr. saying that national athlete’s allowance is equivalent to “minimum wage.”

Mr. Romero is also planning to file a resolution, together with Deputy Speaker Bienvenido M. Abante, Jr., to make the incentives given to athletes who competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics tax-free.

Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda is filing a similar bill to institutionalize tax-free incentives for athletes.

The still unnumbered bill will amend Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act signed in 2015. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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