Allow me to repeat myself

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2021 - 12:00am

Everybody thought that Somebody would do what Anybody could do, so Nobody ended up doing it. – The Story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody

Olympian middleweight boxer Eumir Marcial has been quoted as saying the support he receives from government (his allowance from the Philippine Sports Commission, in particular, likely not his military pay) is inadequate. For Marcial’s edification (since his bosses seem to have not enlightened him), the PSC is actually going out of its way to help him and all of the national athletes. Allow me to repeat myself.

As published in this column on March 27, Republic Act 6847 (“The Philippine Sports Commission Law”) does not say that the PSC is obligated to give monthly allowances to national athletes.  In fact, Section 7,  “Functions of the Commission” just states that “(i) Provide such incentives, recognition and awards to deserving associations, athletes, referees, game officials, coaches, trainers and other persons or entities involved in or supporting sports development as may be permissible under the rules of amateurism;”. Section 11 of same said law, under “Powers of the Commission” adds “(h) To confer, extend and grant awards, benefits and privileges to athletes, coaches and officials for outstanding performances in national and international competitions; (i) To confer, extend and grant support or assistance to sports associations which are in good standing with the Commission;”. Let me, therefore, emphasize: the PSC is not required by law to give regular allowances. Yet, the agency has done so in the amount of billions and billions of pesos since its creation in 1990. The later ratified RA 10699, which expands the coverage of incentives, does not even mention monthly allowances, but merely lists privileges and rewards, which include staying at national sports complexes “while preparing for international competition”.

So, for an athlete – regardless of his stature – to say that his or her allowance is not enough, is downright insulting. As previously mentioned, they’re not even meant to receive any allowances. By law. And if a national athlete needs additional support, two things have to happen. First, his or her national sports association has to figure out how much and what is needed, and request the said amount to cover it from the PSC. Second, the PSC will evaluate the request and approve it – or certain portions of the said budget – if it is deemed proper. After all, we are talking about public funds, which means there is accountability involved. The PSC, like any government agency, has uncompromising protocols to follow before approving the release of any funds. But the NSA concerned must take the first step. Without that, the PSC will not get involved, lest it be accused of government intervention.

The PSC will not initiate. It will not go directly to the concerned athletes, save for the rare occasions when the pertinent NSA has been delinquent in liquidating the previous year’s expenses. In that scenario, the PSC can – and has – sent its own personnel to directly disburse allowances and other training expenses to athletes, to the shame of the NSA involved. On top of that, the commission has oversight powers to see if our money really goes where it was intended to go.

Marcial has made major career decisions in disagreement with the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines. He turned pro despite preparing for the Olympics, signed with MP Promotions, and chose to live and train in California with Freddie Roach and fight as a pro. He skipped a big ABAP training trip to Thailand. Obviously, no NSA would enjoy having its plans very publicly flouted by one of its own. The situation also caused some confusion about who would pay for what. The PSC often pays for foreign coaches when necessary, but again, only with the necessary request and justification from the NSA. ABAP has refuted Marcial’s claims.

It would be forgivable for Eumir Marcial to complain if he either doesn’t know the truth or has been purposely misinformed. Someone should tell him that some NSAs (and athletes) privately pass their shortcomings on to the PSC, and / or publicly take credit for what the PSC has done for their athletes. And yet, the PSC still continues to back the selfsame national athletes, even if they aren’t required to. Even when some bite the hand that feeds them.

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