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It was a mixed-emotion moment for national athletes of the Philippines as their availing a 20% discount on certain goods as provided by law finally had clear-cut rules but were subsequently hit with reduction of their allowances due to the corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
On May 27, 2020, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 1069, the law providing the discount to national team members when purchasing certain goods and services.
These include good like food, medicine, and sports equipment and services such as transport fares, room accommodations, restaurants, recreation centers, cinemas, and other amusement places.
National Team coaches are also covered by this discount.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), through Chairman William Ramirez, said national team members and coaches need to possess and present an identification card as a prerequisite to avail the discount.
The rules for this discount will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or any two newspapers of national circulation.
Meanwhile, the PSC announced a 50% reduction of the monthly allowance of national athletes for the rest of the year as a result of the realigning of the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to help in the COVID-19 response.
“This is a hard decision to make but one that needed to be done.” said Ramirez during an interview.
He explained that the NSDF will be heavily depleted and will be suffering a negative balance by December 31 if the athletes continue to receive full allowances.
The NSDF is the main source of funding for the country’s national sports programs, including training of national athletes for local and international sports competitions.
Ramirez also cited that a big portion of the NSDF was used as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Budget and Management mandated all national government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges to realign their funds towards supporting the national government’s fight against COVID-19 last April.
He also noted that the big drop in the revenues of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) during the implementation of the quarantine, as well as, the different effects of COVID-19 in the sources of revenue in the country also affected the share that supposedly belonged to the NDSF.
According to the law, particularly Republic Act No. 6847 the Philippine Sports Commission Act, the NSDF is allocated five percent of the gross revenues of PAGCOR.
He mentioned that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSC receives some ₱150 million monthly remittance from PAGCOR.
He is hoping that PAGCOR would soon resume its normal remittance so athletes will again receive their regular allowances.
Ramirez, however, assured the athletes that the amount of reduction will be reimbursed once NSDF’s sources of funding become normal and stable.
He clarified during a virtual conference that if the athletes can demand the deficiency according to rules and policies, the commission is going to give it to them accordingly.
The reduction in allowance was set to take effect last June 1.
Ramirez also expressed the commission’s being heart-broken that this allowance reduction had to happen given the athletes recent success in the Southeast Asian Games.
Before the reduction, Platinum athletes are receiving ₱45,000 monthly allowance from the PSC. These include gold medal winners in world championships and Olympic medalists.
The silver and bronze medalists in world championships, Asian Games gold medalists, Olympians of preceding games, and chess grandmasters, classified as Class A athletes have a ₱40,000 monthly allowance.
Class B athletes, which include Asian Games silver and bronze medalists, Asian Cup and Asian championships medalists, and Southeast Asian Games gold medalists, are receiving ₱30,000 per month.
In a related development, the PSC cancelled all scheduled sports events for the rest of the year due to the lack of a vaccine to protect the athletes and coaches.
President Rodgrigo Duterte had been emphasizing his apprehension to open several kinds of crowd-drawing activities, including classes, without the availability of an anti COVID-19 vaccine.
By: Armando M. Bolislis