Champion athletes’ benefits sought

In recognition of the honor and prestige brought by Filipino athletes to the country, Benguet Representative Eric Yap recently filed a bill seeking to grant retirement, health care and death benefits to Filipino athletes who win world championship titles in international professional sports competitions or in other equally prestigious international games.

“Sports is an inherent part of the Filipino culture. Through the years, sporting events conciliates differences and emboldens dialogue, bringing individuals and communities together. As spectators, we take pride of our Filipino athletes who represent the country in international competitions,” Yap said.

House Bill 5160, also known as the Professional Filipino Athletes Retirement, Health Care and Death Benefits Act, aims to provide retirement, health care, and death benefits to athletes who win championship titles in international professional sports competitions or in other equally prestigious world championship games, in both individual or team events, in recognition of the glory and honor they have bestowed the country.

“As the byword of our very own Team Lakay, a Mixed Martial Arts group based in La Trinidad, Benguet, ‘Champions are not born, they are made.’ Before they excel and garner awards, our athletes make a multitude of sacrifices during their training to be where they are now. Having witnessed how the members of the Team Lakay constantly rose above their struggles in the sport, our kakailyan in the province celebrate them as athletic heroes,” Yap said.

Under the proposed measure, professional Filipino athletes who win in international professional sports competitions shall, upon reaching the age of 50, receive the following retirement benefits: for Individual Events — a lifetime monthly pension of at least P15,000 for individual winner; or for Team Events — a lifetime monthly pension of at least P10,000 for each team member: Provided, that for the athlete who win in individual and team events, the retirement benefits for individual events shall apply.

The measure added that immediately upon winning in any international professional sports competitions, the athletes shall be covered by the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., through a special program, which will provide the required local government premium counterpart to be directly remitted to the PhilHealth.

Upon reaching the age of 50, the athlete shall continue to be a member of the program, subject to existing rules and regulations of the PhilHealth.

In case of hospitalization, any amount in excess of the PhilHealth benefit shall be shouldered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The bill also provides that upon the death of the athlete, the primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum death benefit of P50,000 to cover funeral services and related expenses: Provided, that if there are no primary beneficiaries — the legitimate spouse and legitimate or illegitimate children; the secondary beneficiaries — the parents, and in their absence, to the brothers or sister of the athletes–shall be entitled to said benefits.

It also states that there should be an independent and separate trust fund that would be established for the professional Filipino athletes’ welfare development.

The fund shall be used for the continued upgrading of training facilities to conform with international standards, accreditation of, and other forms of assistance and support to the professional athletes.

“In the province of Benguet, we value our athletes as icons and inspiration for us to be at our best. Even before they become well-known internationally by their achievements, we have already recognized our very own athletes by their hard work and determination.

During competitions, we essentially root for them to successfully overcome the challenges and secure victory in their respective fields,” Yap said.

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