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HOUSE TOLD: PASS 2 BILLS FOR FILIPINO ATHLETES

Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte is urging his colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly approve two pro-Filipino athlete bills he has authored as companion measures to the proposal that seeks to grant benefits to Filipino professional athletes who win in international sports competitions. 

One of Villafuerte’s bills aims to grant women equal opportunity to athletic scholarships and prizes, and the other one seeks to protect the rights of athletes to represent the Philippines as part of the national team.

“These bills will complete the fitting tribute to our athletes who bring pride and honor to our country.”

“These bills will complete the fitting tribute to our athletes who bring pride and honor to our country. These measures along with the grant of benefits to them and the law establishing the National Academy of Sports (NAS) show that they will never be forgotten for their contributions to nation-building,” said Villafuerte.

House Bill (HB) Nos. 1962 and 9338, which both aim to grant retirement, health care, and death benefits to Filipino professional athletes who have won awards in international sports competitions, were recently approved by the House committee on youth and sports development.

The measures received support from the Games and Amusement Board (GAB), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). 

On the other hand, Villafuerte’s pro-Filipino athlete proposal—HB 10364—seeks to protect the rights of sportsmen and sportswomen to represent the country as part of the national team and provides penalties for violating its provisions. 

HB 10364 states that it is the right of an eligible athlete to try out, train, and participate in international sports competitions and represent the country as part of the national team. 

Employers, educational institutions, athletic associations, sports organizations, and clubs have the duty or responsibility to allow an athlete to try out, train, or participate in international sports competitions, provided that such decision to represent the country as part of the national team is the athlete’s own free will.

The bill also enumerates several prohibited acts and their corresponding penalties, which include, among others, the refusal to release a student-athlete to the national team to try out, train, or to participate in international sports competitions; and revocation or withholding of the benefits of the scholarship of a student-athlete, without cause, which may include the non-payment of tuition and other miscellaneous fees covered by the scholarship granted, and other monetary and non-monetary benefits. 

Villafuerte, who is among the principal authors of the law establishing the NAS, said the bills granting benefits to Filipino athletes and his proposals to improve the welfare of Filipino sportsmen and sportswomen will complement the creation of the Academy at the New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac.

Another Villafuerte measure—HB 8530—grants women equal opportunity to athletic scholarships and prizes, tasks schools, colleges, universities, or any other learning institutions to take into account the gender of its total student population in granting the athletic scholarship. 

“There shall be no pro-rata representation of women in the athletic scholarship program based on the percentage of women in the whole student population,” the bill states. 

Villafuerte’s bill also states, among others, that “No sports event or tournament will offer or award a different sports prize, with respect to its amount or value, to women and men winners. Provided that, the said tournament, contest, race, match, event or game is open to both sexes: Provided further that, the sports event or tournament is divided into male and female division.”

It also provides penalties for violations of the bill’s provisions. 

Villafuerte, who is among the principal authors of the law establishing the NAS, said the bills granting benefits to Filipino athletes and his proposals to improve the welfare of Filipino sportsmen and sportswomen will complement the creation of the Academy at the New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac.

The first phase of the NAS envisioned as a green and climate-resilient learning center and training ground for deserving Filipino scholar-athletes, is expected to be completed in February next year. 

Created through Republic Act (RA) No. 11470, the NAS was institutionalized to recognize and develop exceptionally talented students from all sectors, including indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups, as proposed by Villafuerte. 

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