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Two Senate bills seek boxers’ benefits, boxing commission

MANILA, Philippines - In recognition of the contributions of the country’s world-class boxers, the Senate has laid out several bills aimed at protecting the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr., giving them incentives and ensuring they have something to fall back on once they retire from the sport.

Among the bills being considered now are Senate Bill 3254, which would create a Philippine Boxing Commission (PBC) in order to strengthen the country’s standing in boxing and ensure the welfare of Filipino boxers.

The bill was sponsored by committee on games and amusement chairman Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III before the Senate went on its Christmas break.

“Their (boxers) achievements in the ring show that Filipino boxers possess superior physical strength, skills, and talents which, if given the proper support of the State, will ensure these promising boxers top ranks in the world boxing arena,” Pimentel said in his sponsorship speech.

“While giving honor and glory to our country, Filipino boxers risk their lives and limbs in this sport. In fact, some have met their untimely death due to the lack, if not absence, of safety and emergency medical services while others face retirement without any kind of financial assistance or access to medical care,” he added.

Under the current set-up, boxing is under the supervision of the Games and Amusement Board, which Pimentel said has not given the sport the appropriate regulatory attention that it deserves.

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The proposed PBC would be tasked as the policy-making body for the sport and provide the proper directions for the development and safety of boxers, coaches, trainers and the stakeholders.

It would be placed under the Office of the President and would have powers and functions including the establishment of uniform rules and procedures related to boxing; working towards developing world-class professional boxers; providing safety procedures to protect boxers from physical and financial exploitation; and providing for comprehensive health care benefits, life insurance, alternative livelihood program, and other benefits for boxers who have competed and won in international boxing events.

A medical advisory board would also be established to assist and advise the Commission on issues affecting the health and safety of boxers.

“To promote the welfare of our professional boxers and international boxing champions, the proposed legislation seeks to require promoters to provide private insurance coverage for each professional boxing promotion; provide for health care benefits through PhilHealth and death benefits for all professional boxers; and provide for alternative livelihood programs for retired and/or injured international boxing champions, among other benefits enumerated in the legislation,” Pimentel said.

Another bill filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago seeks to prevent deaths and serious injury caused by traumatic brain injury, which mostly affects boxers due to the nature of their sport.

Senate Bill 3340 aims to educate the public, especially student and amateur athletes about the dangers of sports-related brain injuries.

“While sports-related injuries do not always cause death, the leading cause of death from these injuries is traumatic brain injury,” Santiago said.

“Boxing is an example of a very popular sport where participants are at risk of suffering from brain damage. Professional and amateur boxers can suffer permanent brain damage over time,” she added.

Apart from educating student athletes and their parents about the prevention, symptoms and dangers of sports-related injuries, the bill also provides for general guidelines for all sports activities in order to prevent injury.   

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