AN ANNUAL budget in the vicinity of P2 billion is needed to revive the country’s flagging sports program.
So said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia, who pointed to the meager budget allotted for sports development as one of the reasons behind the decline in the Filipino athletes’ performances in major international competitions, as seen from the 28th Southeast Asian Games.
The Philippines finished sixth overall in the latest edition of the biennial showcase, just a notch higher than its all-time low seventh-place finish in Myanmar two years ago. The contingent also needed a hard-earned win in basketball to match its 29-gold output from 2013.
Once again under fire for the woeful showing, Garcia said the PSC is doing its best with the resources at its disposal, pointing out that the Philippines' annual budget of around P800 million is a pittance compared to the P7-8 billion neighbors like Singapore spend annually for sports development.
“Ang budget ng Singapore, they have around P7-8 billion pesos worth of budget sa kanilang training and program. Tayo magkano? P800 million lang,” Garcia told Spin.ph.
“Let me clear ha, hindi napapabayaan ang Philippine sports, kulang lang tayo ng pera. If we have P2 billion a year (in budget), that will be more than sufficient to be able to support itong mga atleta natin,” he added.
Unlike in other countries, Garcia said the PSC only ‘panhandles for budget’ depending on the earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
At present, the PSC receives around P180 million from the government through the General Appropriations Act, with the remaining P800 million coming from Pagcor as part of the mandated government socio-civic and national development efforts.
“Humihingi na talaga tayo ng dagdag pa sa gobyerno, matagal na. Kaso wala eh. Sa atin eh share na lang ng Pagcor. Pagcor is trying to give us our share, pero kulang pa rin,” Garcia said.
Since winning the SEA Games overall title for the first time in 2005 as host, Filipino athletes’ medal haul has been on an alarming decline. It slipped to sixth overall just two years later in Nakhonratchasima, Thailand, finished fifth in 2009 in Laos before slipping back to sixth place in the 2011 Palembang Games in Indonesia.
The low point came in 2013 in Myanmar.
Garcia believes the country can reclaim its rightful place in sports within the region once the budget is re-aligned, along with much-needed support from the private sector.
“It has to be (in coordination) with the private sector na. Maraming factor dito eh,” he said. “For us to compete (well), that (P2 billion) should be the budget.”
However, political analyst and newspaper columnist Alex Magno told Spin.phGarcia’s P2 billion budget wish for the PSC can be considered ‘suntok sa buwan,’ considering the priority given to social services under the P2.6 trillion budget of the Aquino administration.
“Politically unlikely yan. Kasi galit si Noynoy (Aquino) kay (POC President) Peping (Cojuangco) and besides, ang alam lang ni PNoy sa sports, firing range (shooting),” said Magno.
“Generally speaking (if you are going to look back), walang increase lagi sa sports and arts,” he said.
Magno however, bared if the President would want to fully support Philippine sports, Aquino can always allocate funds from his P300 billion social fund.
“Kung gugustuhin ni Pnoy na tumulong sa sport, kaya. Idi-direct lang niya yun mula sa kanyang social fund. Ang laki ng discretionary fund ng President. P300 billion. Bilyon ha, B,” said the political analyst.