SENATOR Francis 'Chiz' Escudero said on Monday a huge budget surplus by the Philippine Sports Commission that runs to half a billion pesos should be channeled into the quest for an elusive gold medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The PSC has announced savings of more than P500 million from the past year which chairman Ritchie Garcia plans to distribute among national sports associations (NSAs) to fund programs that would ensure medal victories in the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.
Escudero, however, urged Garcia and his board to keep their focus on the Olympics, even if the Summer Games are still three years away.
"While the SEA Games remain important, we should not take our focus away from the Olympics. It would do us best if we choose our priority Olympic events right away and give them funding aside from what they receive from their private sponsors," Escudero, an avid pistol shooter and bike enthusiast, said.
The last time the Philippines had a podium finish in the Olympics was in 1996, when Mansueto 'Onyok' Velasco settled for a boxing silver medal in the lightflyweight division.
The Philippines was shut out of the medal race in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
"The PSC has the capability to stop our decline this time," Escudero said.
"This is the first time that the PSC is claiming savings of as much as this, half-a-billion pesos that does not need to be returned to the national treasury as it was saved from the agency's corporate funds," Escudero said. "But the PSC could not spend this much just for the SEA Games alone, as earlier reported in the papers."
"Any savings is always a good news. Spending these savings wisely and effectively would make better news, however," said Escudero.
"On the part of the national government, our top leaders could give the PSC's programs an extra push, while we in Congress should also give extra effort in giving the PSC its equitable share from the national budget as long as it could justify its expenses related to sports development," Escudero said.
But the youthful lawmaker cautioned against unnecessary expenses, saying the PSC should prioritize projects related to athletes' buildup for the 2016 Summer Games.