TWENTY years after bringing home the silver medal from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, light-flyweight boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco is yet to receive the incentives the government had promised him.
Velasco said that a proposed law dictating to grant him incentives for his victory was filed and approved in the House of Representatives but unfortunately, the counterpart measure was not passed in the Senate because the chamber was facing a leadership issue that time.
Velasco said that since the measure was not enacted into law, the cash incentive, which he was supposed to receive was not given to him.
He said he was supposed to use the money to put up a boxing gym that would provide quality training to aspiring young boxers in the country.
“That was my plan, to set up my own gym for the aspiring boxers,” Velasco said in Filipino.
Velasco hopes that Rio Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz would not suffer the same fate as him and that the government would grant her the benefits and other perks guaranteed under Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.
Diaz ended the 20-year Olympic medal drought of the Philippines after bagging a silver medal at the women’s 53-kg category in weightlifting, finishing with a score of 200-kg.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara in a separate interview said that Velasco is entitled to cash incentives and other benefits under the old RA 9064 or the Sports Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001, which was enacted on 2001.
“Republic Act 9064 which took effect 2001 has a provision for retroactive application up to 50 percent which P1.25 million, less anything already received from government,” Angara said.
Angara was referring to Section 9 of RA 9064 which states that “Any national athlete who, prior to the enactment of this Act, had won gold, silver or bronze medals in international competitions except SEA Games, shall be entitled to the benefits and privileges provided under Section 4 and fifty percent (50 percent) of the cash incentives provided under Section 8 of this Act.”
This means that besides the 20 percent discount on transportation, hotels and amusements centers and other privileges, Velasco should have received P1.25 million which is 50 percent of the P2.5 million cash incentive given to silver medalist.
RA6024 was repealed by RA10699 expanding the coverage of incentives granted to national athletes and coaches.
Diaz, under the new law will be receiving P5 million cash incentive as well as scholarship, and retirement benefits, which is equivalent to 25 percent of all her winning throughout her career.
She is also entitled to discounts in lodging, transportation, medicine, sports equipment, amusement, free medical and dental consultation, Philhealth and SSS coverage, priority in housing programs and loans, and the use of living quarters.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Sports, chaired by Sen. Many Pacquiao will be conducting an inquiry next week to look into reports about the non-granting of incentives to athletes as well as the possible reform in the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
According to him, the PSC is facing many problems and nobody bothers to resolve thus denying the athlete of their need to improve their skills.
“I have been in sports for a very long time and I know that what is going on there (PSC),” Pacquiao added.
The senate hearing next week is just an organizational meeting, but Pacquiao said he will take the opportunity to know more about PSC and the Philippine Olympic Commission and find a way to address the problems facing Philippine athletes.