NOW no less than the greatest Filipino athlete ever is batting for the government to increase the budget allotted for Philippine sports.
Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao said he’s very much in favor of extending financial support to Filipino athletes especially if the country expects to become successful in major international meets such as the Olympics.
“Sa akin agree ako diyan na increasan ang budget ng (Philippine) Sports Commission (PSC),” said the 36-year-old ring icon during the turnover rite of his personal memorabilia to the Philippine Sports Museum at the Philsports Arena over the weekend.
Pacquiao, the lone representative from the province of Sarangani, said he sees no problem allotting part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund to augment the country’s sports budget.
“Walang problema sa akin,” he said. “Ang budget ng gobyerno para sa tao talaga ‘yan.”
For starters, Pacquiao committed a whooping P5 million incentive to any Filipino athletes who could win for the country its first ever Olympic gold medal.
The eight-time division world champion stressed athletes can’t survive on pure talent alone, adding they also need sufficient funding and support.
“Para sa akin, dagdagan natin 'yung budget ng sports natin kung gusto natin magkaroon tayo ng gold, magkaroon ng magagaling na atleta,” said the boxing legend, who himself had to overcome extreme poverty in the province to become the second highest paid athlete in the world today.
“We need to support them,” Pacquiao added. “Hindi naman pwede 'yung sikap ka nang sikap pero walang suporta. Kailangan combined 'yan suporta at determinasyon ng atleta.”
At the same time, Pacquiao believes having quality Filipino athletes is the same as having a good tourism industry in the country.
He pointed out how the role of athletes factored in the growth of the economy.
“Para sa akin I believe that sports, 'yun yung parang tourism sa Pilipinas to promote Philippines, to promote our contry malaking bagay kasi, malaking factor ‘yan,” he said.
“Pagka marami tayong mga atleta, marami tayong mga sikat na atletang nagbigay ng pangalan sa ibang bansa, mas maraming mga investors na pupunta dito para mag-invest sa bansa natin. So malaking tulong sa ekonomiya rin natin eh,” Pacquiao added.