On November 13, 2015, Republic Act 10699 known as the “National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act” was enacted into law, expanding the benefits received under RA 9064 (Approved on April 5, 2001). The declared policy of RA 10699 is to “promote excellence in sports by looking after the welfare of national athletes and coaches competing for the country and by providing benefits and incentives for national athletes and other athletes who win in international sports competitions and bring honor and recognition to the country” (Section 2).
Are our national athletes and coaches aware of these benefits and incentives—and more important, how many have actually been awarded these benefits and incentives?
The law defines “national athletes” as athletes including persons with disabilities who are Filipino citizens, members of the national training pool, recognized and accredited by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission, including athletes with disabilities (AWD) who are recognized and accredited by the National Paralympic Committee of the Philippines (NPC PHIL) and the PSC and who have represented the country in international sports competitions.
“National coaches” refer to coaches of national athletes, who are Filipino citizens, members of the national coaches training pool, recognized and accredited by the PSC and the POC, or the PSC and NPC PHIL in the case of AWD coaches who have represented the country as official coaches to national athletes in international sports competitions (Section 3[d]).
Benefits and privileges for national athletes and national coaches are as follows:
“a. The grant of 20-percent discount from all establishments relative to the utilization of transportation services, hotels and other lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers and purchase of medicine and sports equipment anywhere in the country for the actual and exclusive use or enjoyment of the national athlete and coach;
b. Minimum of 2-percent discount on admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, carnivals, and other similar places of culture, leisure and amusement for the actual and exclusive use and enjoyment of the national athlete and coach;
c. Free medical and dental consultations in government hospitals and similar establishments anywhere in the country;
d. Coverage in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. through the sponsored program of the PSC;
e. A comprehensive social security program to be formulated by the Social Security System within 180 days from the approval of this Act;
f. Priority in existing livelihood programs being undertaken by various government agencies subject to the guidelines and qualifications by the implementing body;
g. Priority in national housing programs, affordable pabahay loans and other housing opportunities subject to the guidelines and qualifications set by the National Housing Authority (NHA) or the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF); and
h. Use of living quarters and training centers set up and maintained by the PSC for the exclusive use of national athletes while preparing and training for international competitions (Section 4).”
Additionally, scholarship benefits, retirement benefits and death benefits are required to be given to national athletes and coaches as follows:
Section 5. Scholarship Benefits for National Athletes—A national athlete who wins in a regular major international sports competition shall be entitled to scholarship benefits in the form of full tuition fees from state colleges or universities for a college or university degree. The winning athlete shall, likewise, be given priority in the availment of state college or university scholarship grants.
Section 6. Retirement Benefits for National Athletes and Coaches—Any national athlete and coach who wins in an international competition or has coached such winning national athlete shall receive a lump sum amount equivalent to 25 percent of his/her total cash incentives computed from the start of his/her active sports career as a member of the national training pool or national coaches training pool up to the last day of retirement from active competition or training as certified by the PSC. Such lump sum amount shall be released 60 days from the filing of the retirement papers.
Section 7. Death Benefits—Upon the death of any national athlete and coach, the primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit of P30,000 to cover for the funeral services: Provided, That if the athlete and coach has no primary beneficiaries (legitimate spouse, legitimate or illegitimate children) the secondary beneficiaries (parents, or in their absence brother or sisters) shall be entitled to said benefits.
RA 10699, likewise, provides under Section 8 thereof for cash incentives to other athletes who are not officially or currently members of the national training pool but who have otherwise represented the country in international sports competitions who win gold, silver and bronze medals in international sports competitions. Cash incentives range from P150,000 to P10 million for gold medalists; P75,000 to P5 million for silver medalists; P30,000 to P2 million for bronze medalists. For the SEA Games, the cash incentive for gold medalists is P300,000; silver medalists, P150,000; and bronze medalists, P60,000. The cash incentives for team events with less than five participants is the same as incentives for individual medal winners. For teams with more than five participants, each team member shall receive 25 percent of the cash incentives for individual medal winners (Section 8[b]). Coaches who have trained and rendered service to athletes or teams at least six months prior to the international competition receive a cash incentive equivalent to 50 percent of the cash incentives for gold, silver and bronze medalist. In case of more than one coach, the incentives shall be divided equally (Section 9).
I know from personally interviewing one of our most bemedaled national athletes that not all these benefits and incentives have been received, until recently. National athletes and coaches may have received the recognition they then deserved, but as time passed and their glories faded, the nation has forgotten them. Worse, some have joined the afterlife after living in abject poverty.
This SEA Games must be an eye-opener on how our national athletes and coaches are being rewarded and compensated.
Even if all these benefits were given, these would still be a paltry amount compared to the P50 million wasted on some kaldero!