WHEN Dabawenyo Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez lobbied for support for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics fund from the House of Representatives, he did not appear demanding, but he was determined to speak for the welfare of the national athletes just like a father appealing for the welfare of his children.
He said there is a need for the sports agency's slashed funds so they can continue supporting the training of Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls who are still seeking for Tokyo berths. Olympic hopefuls still need to compete in different qualifying tournaments abroad, which were postponed to late this year or early next year due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Ramirez said, "We were one of those government offices who also contributed to the Bayanihan Act. The DBM (Department of Budget and Management) deducted from us. Para sa amin malaking bagay 'yun kasi kasama doon 'yung Olympic budget namin. Hanggang ngayon po bakante 'yan. It's an opportunity for us to ask, we need your help."
He underscored the boost Congress can give to the country's quest for the elusive Olympic gold medal through the funding support.
Chef de Mission Mariano Araneta presented to the Lower House the P182 million budget for the Tokyo-bound qualifiers and aspirants.
Just as Congress and the Senate supported the P180 million budget for the allowances of the over 1,000 national athletes, the PSC chief is hoping that both Houses will also give their support to the Olympic budget of the national sports agency.
PSC is operating on the allocation from the earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the National Sports Development Fund. The funds from the latter support the elite athletes program. Since the pandemic, PSC has cancelled all its programs and activities until December this year. The grassroots program were also affected.
The agency's budget was cut to P596 million from the NDSF and another P773 million was reduced from the General Appropriations Act by the DBM for the national government's Covid-19 response.
It's a relief that House Youth and Sports Development Committee Development head Rep. Eric Martinez assured Chairman Ramirez that they will do their best to get funding for the country's Olympic stint. He also urged his fellow solons to also give their support as it is crucial to the country's goal of nailing its first ever gold in the quadrennial games.
A total of 21 athletes are training abroad including Rio Olympics 2016 silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz while 65 hopefuls are training in the country. While the country is still battling this war against Covid-19, hearing exploits of our national athletes even in online competitions surely give us hope and inspiration. We certainly hope and pray that more Filipinos will qualify for the upcoming Olympics. With ample support from the government (and private sector), it is feasible.