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PIA Press Release
Wednesday, November 24, 2010


House oks P15T/mo. pension to world champs

Manila (November 24) - Inspired by the unprecedented feat of world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development has approved a bill that grants P15,000 in monthly retirement pension for the retired professional Filipino athletes who have won world titles or world championships.

According to Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Rep. Mark Aeron H. Sambar, the panel also approved the granting of health benefits of up to P200,000 per hospitalization to the country's world champions, whose retirement age was pegged at 50.

The panel, chaired by Camarines Norte Rep. Renato Unico, also made the measure retroactive to cover all living professional athletes who have won in any international sports event, Sambar said.

The approval came after the committee consolidated the three bills - House Bills 2094, 38 and 1964 principally authored by Sambar and Reps. Pedro Acharon Jr. of South Cotabato and Mark Villar of Las Pinas City, respectively.

The committee particularly focused on Sambar's HB 2094 that seeks to grant the monthly pension of P15,000 and health benefits.

"I personally witnessed how Mexican Antonio Margarito suffered from the blows and punches of Manny Pacquiao. Margarito was beaten up badly. He could hardly open his eyes and had to undergo surgery because of serious cuts in the face. God forbid, if that happens to our athletes and they are not as successful as Pacquiao financially, this bill will be of great help to them when they retire," Sambar said.

Sambar, vice chairman of the committee, attended the panel hearing Wednesday shortly after he arrived from Dallas, Texas to watch the Pacquiao-Margarito fight.

In some cases, he said, Filipino boxers had risked their lives to bring honor to the country even if it would result in getting blind, going into coma, or being incapacitated to win the fight.

But Sambar stressed the consolidated bill does not only cover the boxing champions but also those in other fields in sports.

Covered by the bill are other professional athletes that have also brought honor to the country such as track-and-field winners Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros-Posadas, bowling hall-of-famer Paeng Nepumuceno and two-time pool player world champion Efren "Bata" Reyes, who is dubbed the "magician."

Sambar assured that once the bill is passed into law, the retired athletes who would be covered by the P15,000-monthly pension include: WBA Jr., Lightweight title holder Rene Barrientos, 68; WBA Jr Lightweight Ben Villaflor, 68; WBA Flyweight Bernabe Villacampo, 67; WBA Flyweight Erbito Salvaria, 64; the controversial WBC Jr. Lightweight Rolando Navarette, 53; and WBC Flyweight Frank Cendeno, 52.

Sambar said each of those who have won world titles as a team would be guaranteed a monthly pension of P10,000 each.

"Our professional world champion athletes that have not yet reached the retirement age of 50 but could no longer pursue their profession in the field would be given gainful employment. They could be tapped as coaches or trainers to our budding new athletes," Sambar said.

"The lifetime retirement incentive being granted to our professional athletes is our way of acknowledging their achievement and the prestige and honor that they brought to our country," Sambar said.

The panel is set to submit a committee report to the House plenary for debate and approval on second reading. (PIA-NCR)

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