Agatha Wong denied discount for national athletes despite law

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Agatha Wong denied discount for national athletes despite law
Agatha Wong took another gold medal for Team Philippines after scoring 9.65 in the Women's Wushu Taijijan on Tuesday.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — Wushu superstar Agatha Wong took to her Twitter account to call for better implementation of the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act, which grants national athletes a 20-percent discount in restaurants and movie theatres, among other establishments. 

"Can we make R.A. 10699 on the national athlete’s discount benefits an imposed and required law to abide by?" Wong tweeted on Saturday night. 

"Gets quite annoying to keep having to explain to managers that this kind of benefit actually exists and some are even doubtful. U think amalayer?"

In an online exchange with Philstar.com, Wong narrated how a manager at a restaurant on Saturday told her family that they were never told that such a law even existed. Wong's family asserted that the law did exist.

Despite that, the family had to wait for half an hour before not getting the discount anyway. 

"I did not reply. It wasn’t the first time I was denied of my right to a discount, so I just let it go. We just paid the bill and left," she said. 

It was only after Wong left the restaurant to assist her grandmother who was booking a Grab that the management offered her a discount. 

According to Wong, upon coming back inside, she was approached by the restaurant's manager who said, "[M]eron pala pong law, kakasabi lang po ng head namin and he confirmed. Do you still want the discount on your bill?”

She replied, "We weren’t lying when we told you that there was a law on this. Would we lie about such a thing only to cause problems for your restaurant? We’re not those kinds of people."

Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act provides that national athletes are granted a 20-percent discount in "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" as well as on "admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, carnivals, and other similar places of culture, leisure and amusement."

Penalties are also included for any establishments erring in the aforementioned provisions. Section 11 of the act reads:

1. For the first violation, a fine of not less than fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) but not exceeding one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than six (6) months but not more than two (2) years, or both, at the discretion of the court; and

2. For any subsequent violation, a fine of not less than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not exceeding two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than two (2) years but not more than six (6) years, or both, at the discretion of the court.

In response to Wong's tweet, sports lawyer Mickey Ingles tweeted, "[I]f ayaw talaga, show them a print out of the [implementing rules and regulations]." 

"I hoped the SEAG would’ve brought more light to the subject," he added.

Stories of athletes being denied state support is nothing new these days, particularly on social media. 

Lack of public awareness

In October, Nikko Huelgas, who was a 2017 SEA Games gold medalist for triathlon and now sits as chairman of the Athletes Commission under the Philippine Olympic Committee, also lamented the lack of awareness of the law from the public.

"Several establishments are not even aware that athletes and coaches are entitled to such privileges," he told the Inquirer. 

"There are establishments that honor our IDs. But in most cases, we have to shell out the full amount of the purchase."

Wong, who turned in a successful title defense to the tune of two gold finishes at the recently concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games, was careful to say that she did not have a problem with the restaurant after this experience. 

"I have a problem with the people that have denied me in my past efforts to avail a discount and doubted that a law on this exists," she explained. 

"I’ve even encountered some people who just sustained a staring contest with me right after denying me of my rights and not even giving the effort to contact or call the manager."




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