The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Friday backed a congressional proposal to provide rewards and incentives to professional athletes who win accolades for the country in international competitions.
PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan commended Sultan Kudarat Representative Horacio Suansing and Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing for putting forward House Bill No. 299, to be known as the Professional Filipino Athletes Health Care, Retirement and Death Benefits Act if passed, which he described as overdue.
“While Filipino athletes usually get cash incentives for bringing pride and honor to the country, the government should also exert its efforts in making sure that their health concerns will be addressed once they get sick or hospitalized,” Balutan said.
“This proposal is the best measure to honor our long-neglected athletes who gave honor and pride to the country, for the interest of Philippine sports in recent history,” he added.
Under the proposed measure, the government will give professional athletes who win international competitions pensions, health and death benefits, among others.
Balutan said the PCSO is honored to be included in the special program under the Games and Amusement Board (GAB).
Under the bill, professional athletes will be covered by the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the PCSO will shoulder the hospitalization expenses in excess of the PhilHealth coverage.
“Any amount in excess of the PhilHealth benefits shall be shouldered by the PCSO under its Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) in case of hospitalization of the professional athletes,” Balutan said.
The IMAP, conceptualized in 1993, aims to attend to the financial needs of individuals with health concerns who were confined, undergoing dialysis, or undergoing cancer treatments.
The House Committee on Games and Amusements, led by Paranaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, had earlier approved the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) to further scrutinize HB 229.
The bill also provides that professional athletes who win in an individual international event shall receive a lifetime monthly pension of at least P15,000.
As for team sports events, winners shall be granted a lifetime monthly pension of at least P10,000 for each member team.
Upon the death of the professional athlete, the primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum death benefit of P30,000 to cover funeral services or expenses.