MANILA – Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richard Bachmann on Wednesday thanked the senators who are supporting the agency’s bid to secure PHP3.7 billion for the complete rehabilitation of the decades-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
This after senators Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Committee on Sports; Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, chair of the Committee on Finance; and Pia Cayetano, chair of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking, have given their support to the sports agency's 2024 budget increase.
“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,” Bachmann said in a statement on Wednesday.
The PSC said Go, who is also vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, noticed the disparity between the proposed budget for the PSC from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) compared to the overall appropriations for the entire national budget, noting the DBM only approved PHP200 million for the sports body for 2024, a mere 0.004 percent of the proposed national budget.
He questioned the reason behind the 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 PHP3 billion, pagdating sa Committee (on Finance), sasabihin sa amin, PHP200 million lang ang na-approve. Umaasa po sila sana madagdagan po ang kanilang pondo (I just noticed that when they submit PHP3 billion to the DBM, when it comes to the Committee (on Finance), we are told that only PHP200 million was approved. They hope to increase their funds)," Go said.
Citing the successful hosting of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in promoting the country’s image internationally, Go said it is imperative for the government to rethink the low priority with which it regards sports in general, and athletes in particular.
Go added that the National Sports Development Fund, primarily sourced from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), is not enough 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 (We expect our athletes to honor us. That is not given much value in our budget. There's more to come that isn't as important. We should give importance to our athlete who gives honor to our country),” Go said.
Senator Sonny Angara is hopeful that the DBM would give more consideration to the sports sector in future budgets as he praised Go’s strong advocacy for the sector.
Senator Pia Cayetano, for her part, underscored the value of sports in nation-building and the potential impact on youth development.
She also underscored 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,” Bachmann said.
The Senate submitted the PSC budget for plenary approval on Nov. 14. (PNA)