Baham Mitra
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GAB helps fighters, trainers
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra said yesterday the government agency is now coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to speed up the process of providing assistance to over 1,133 licensed fighters and combat sports trainers under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) providing food or non-food assistance valued in the range of P5,000 to P8,000 each.

Mitra sent letters to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello and DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista last April 1 requesting assistance in line with R.A. 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act during the coronavirus pandemic. The letters were signed by Mitra and GAB commissioners Eduard Trinidad and Mar Masanguid.

DOLE said the SAP is not within its jurisdiction, leaving GAB to focus on its request to DSWD. Mitra said DSWD’s response was positive. “They are awaiting a list (of certified beneficiaries) from us and to be further verified by them,” he said. “DSWD will be giving us forms with bar codes to give to the boxers and they themselves give the forms to their local DSWD units.”

Mitra said of the identified beneficiaries, the breakdown is 805 boxers, 79 MMA fighters, 32 muay thai fighters, 157 boxing trainers or seconds, 48 MMA trainers and 12 muay thai trainers. The updated figures reflect the changes in the GAB’s renewal system (from date-of-birth licensing) and the series of license numbers. Mitra said the beneficiaries fall under the classification of workers affected by the “No Work No Pay” policy as a result of the enhanced community quarantine.

“Once we submit the names and they get validation then get the forms from DSWD, then the beneficiaries can submit the forms to their DSWD units to receive the assistance,” said Mitra. “We’re hoping and praying for DSWD’s approval so that the boxers can take care of their families while training in this long rest period. We are still in the process of complying with the requirements set by DSWD. Based on our initial conversation with DSWD officials, after the submission of the names and info of our licensees, they will forward the names to DSWD Central Office for the creation of coded SAP forms. Those SAP forms are exclusive to our boxers and other beneficiaries. We will distribute the forms for them to fill up then they can approach their local DSWD units. We’re still waiting for the final instruction and approval from DSWD officials.”

Mitra said DSWD will dispense the assistance based on the coded SAP forms. Each beneficiary will be given two sets of SAP forms, one to submit to the local DSWD unit and the other to keep. The forms are free of charge. Mitra said GAB offices reopened with a skeletal force yesterday and assured that salaries of employees continue to be given. He said GAB is also working closely with the Philippine Boxing Promoters and Managers Association, headed by Dante Almario, to raise funds for boxers, trainers and matchmakers whose livelihood has been prejudiced by the pandemic. Bebot Elorde, Brico Santig and Art Monis are among the managers and promoters involved in the fund-raising campaign.

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