The proposal to create a boxing commission worth a hefty P150 million was placed under scrutiny during a recent Senate hearing.
In the hearing on May 18, lawmakers deliberated Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s proposal to create a Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission under Senate Bill No. 2077 amid the still raging novel coronavirus pandemic.
Under the bill, one of the objectives of the commission is to “promote and make the country as an international/regional center for professional boxing and combat sports competition, training, convention and tourism.”
Citing his own experience, the boxer-turned-politician also explained in the hearing that professional boxers often retire from the sport without pension or benefits.
“Those who will retire from boxing poor and crippled, all without a pension, without benefits, they are the reasons that I want people to understand. I’m not attacking GAB (Games and Amusement Board). That’s my experience in my boxing career ko. I’m 42 years old. I started boxing [at] 12 years old. So maybe for more than half of my life, I was boxing. I know the situation of boxers,” he said.
When asked about how much the proposed body would cost, the senator-boxer replied that it would cost between P100 million to P150 million to establish offices across the country.
Sen. Pia Cayetano then pointed out that while she supports the needs of athletes, it would be better to allocate such a costly amount of money to help the public amid the health and economic crisis.
She also noted that P150 million is already existing in GAB.
“I love the athletes…and definitely, I want our boxers to be safe, but I’d like that P150 million to be put into good use, especially during this time of COVID. That’s P150 million for an administrative function that is already existing in GAB,” Cayetano said.
The senator also added that the cost Pacquiao had estimated for the separate sports commission makes up the entire budget for GAB.
“That budget for boxing and combat sports alone is equivalent to the entire budget of GAB for all the other sports. How can we justify that?” Cayetano said.
In response, Pacquiao argued that the estimated initial funding will only be needed for setting up the administrative offices.
When this report reached Reddit Philippines, users also questioned the creation of another commission dedicated to boxers.
“It didn’t make sense back when Pacquiao proposed it in 2017 and failed to make a decent justification, it shouldn’t matter even now,” one user said.
The government agency that currently handles all sports in the country is the Philippine Sports Commission.
A counterpart organization that serves as the Philippines’ representative to the various Olympic Games is the Philippine Olympic Committee. Unlike the PSC, the POC is a private, non-governmental organization.
One Reddit user, meanwhile, suggested that lawmakers who offered to add more committees and agencies should finance them themselves.
“Here’s a proposal, legislators who propose creating additional layers of bureaucracy would have to fund these agencies from their own budgets instead. How many additional congressional districts have been created in the past 5 years? How many more agencies and needless commissions? Wala raw budget pero ang daming wasteful spending,” one user said.