Filtered By: Sports

Philippine sports remains a pauper when it comes to funding

Last of three parts
Shortly after the Philippines finished at sixth place in the Southeast Asian Games last month, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia said that the lack of budget is one of the main reasons for the country's poor showing in the biennial meet.
The 466-strong delegation bagged 29 gold, 36 silver, and 66 bronze medals, matching the gold output in 2013 and slightly improving in the overall medal tally to avoid a repeat of the worst-ever seventh place finish in Myanmar.
Nonetheless, it was still a dismal performance, especially compared to the Philippines' reputation as a strong podium contender in its early years of participation in the SEA Games.
Garcia said that if the government only increase the budget allocated for sports development, Filipino athletes will be able to fare better in international competitions.
"Iba eh. We only have a budget of about P800 million. Singapore has about eight billion pesos," he told GMA News Online in an interview.
In the last 10 years, PSC received an average of around P180 million pesos annually from the national government, which comprises most of its general fund.
As mandated by Republic Act 6847 or the PSC law, 80 percent of the said amount should be allocated for the national sports program, with the remaining 20 percent reserved for the commission's operating expenses.
Aside from the general fund from the government, the PSC also receives money from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and a few other government institutions for the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF). 
The bulk of the NSDF comes from PAGCOR, which remitted an average of around P540 million from 2004 to 2013 based on annual audit reports. PCSO, meanwhile, remitted an average of P7.6 million in the same period. 
Along with additional funds from special appropriations, remittances from the Philippine Racing Commission and the Bureau of Customs, and donations from the private sector, the annual budget for the national sports program roughly totals to P800 million as Garcia said.
Placed beside Manny Pacquiao's earnings for his May fight against Floyd Mayweather fight alone, which is reportedly set to reach $150 million or P6.8 billion, the budget for the entire Philippine sports seems like loose change against the income of the highest paid athlete in the land.
Princely sums
Taking a look on how other Southeast Asian countries spend on sports, the situation is a lot more complex than our neighbors simply allocating a larger budget.
Thailand, a powerhouse nation who has never dropped from the podium and won 12 overall championships in SEA Games, actually allots less money for its national teams compared to the Philippines.
In its 2011 budget brief, the Thai government set aside 400 million baht or roughly P520 million pesos for its national sports development. The same year, PHL's NSDF reached P575 million, in addition to the general fund from DBM amounting to P169 million.
But a closer look reveals Thailand spends more money on sports than the Philippines, with separate allocations for the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Sports Authority of Thailand — totaling around a princely sum P14.37 billion all in all.

Even adding the P206 million budget of the Department of Education for the Palarong Pambansa and its regional, provincial, and district qualifiers that year as a grassroots program of sorts, the Philippines' P950 million budget still pales in comparison.
The same is true for Singapore — a mid-tier SEA Games contender usually placing fourth to sixth place — which allotted S$56.8 million or roughly P1.9 billion for its national athletes, coaches, and NSAs alone, doubling PHL's entire budget in 2011.
Like Thailand, however, the Singaporean government did not stop there and actually set aside a total of P7.2 billion, including the budget for regular sports initiatives, sports industry and ecosystem, and the Singapore Sports School under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth, and Sports.
The Philippines lacks that kind of budget appropriation for sports programs for the general populace, leaving the country's sports recreation programs mostly to the private sector.
The PSC has organized open tournaments like the Batang Pinoy or the Philippine Youth Games and the Philippine National Games, but their budgets also come from the the national sports program.
Local government units also initiate sports leagues in their respective constituencies, sometimes with the help of the Sangguniang Kabataan, but their efforts are mostly individual projects rather than under the umbrella of actual policy.
Paupers in funding
It doesn't help that the PSC may not be getting all of its funding provisions as mandated by its charter.
According to Section 26 of RA 6847, the commission is entitled to five percent of the PAGCOR gross income. In reality, however, PSC receives only 2.5 percent of the corporation's remaining income after deducting franchise taxes from the total amount of winnings.
The amount is halved because the five percent PSC share is computed after setting aside the 50 percent remittance to the government, as directed by the PAGCOR charter.
"It is believed that said allocation is appropriate since the PSC should not have precedence over the National Government," PAGCOR told GMA News Online in an email.
But Garcia believes the PSC should still get the whole five percent share, even though they could not pursue any legal action to compel PAGCOR as both agencies are under the Office of the President.
"Hindi kami puwedeng mag-away. Hindi puwedeng dalhin mo sa korte or file a case, because you're under the same office e," he said.
If PSC would be given the full five percent, the national sports program could be looking at a budget of at least P1.2 billion, a 50 percent increase from the current allocation.
Another source of additional funds is the PCSO, which has not regularly disbursed its share to the PSC in recent years.
The PSC law states that the commission should get "30 percent representing the charity fund and proceeds of six sweepstakes of lottery draws per annum." Before the turn of the millennium, PCSO gave an average of almost P25 million to the PSC every year.
The amount dwindled in the past decade and even dropped to zero remittance four times, until the PCSO resorted to giving a lumpsum in 2012 and 2013.
"They defined 'yung share ng PSC should come from sweepstakes. Dati kasi may sweepstakes eh," Garcia said. "So nawala na 'yung sweepstakes, naging lotto. They say that lotto is not lottery. They are arguing that."
The PSC chief said they have asked for their share several times, but they have no choice but to accept the lumpsum as a compromise so they would not walk away empty-handed.
"Parang broken record na nga kami pabalik-balik sa kanila eh," he said.
The Notes on the Financial Statement of the Annual Audit Reports provided this explanation for the years with zero disbursements: "No remittance was received from PCSO for the current year due to alleged decline in revenues as well as intermittent lottery draws."
In an email to GMA News Online, PCSO said it did not consider lotto as "sweepstakes," which is the main reason why its remittances to PSC has dropped in recent years.
"PCSO made mandatory contributions related to 'sweepstakes draws' from 1997 to 2007. The agency’s interpretation is that computerized Lotto is not the same as 'sweepstakes of lottery draws,'" it said.
PCSO, however, said that it released contributions in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011 as recorded in a status report from its accounting and budget department, a copy of which was furnished to GMA News Online.

Increasing athletes' allowances not a solution?

When it comes to problems faced by Philippine sports, a common refrain is that athletes never get enough support from the government.

But Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia thinks athletes also share a fraction of the blame for the results in international competitions instead of just the coaches and the sports officials.

Athletes, according to him, give a huge chunk of their allowance to their families and leave only a small amount for themselves, affecting their training and preparation especially in terms of food and nutrition.

"You give them an allowance. Let's say, 20,000. What do they do with the money? Papadala sa pamilya. Ang maiiwan sa kanila, limang libo," he said. "How do they stay in shape with 5,000 pesos? Ang pagkain niya, saan siya kakain?

"So sino may kasalanan nun? Kasalanan ng sports official?"

Garcia said that providing meals instead of food allowance did not work either, as the athletes prefer budgeting their own money.

"Even when we experimented na libre ang pagkain, ayaw nila," he said. "Kasi kung pagkain lang, paano nila papadala sa pamilya nila 'yung pagkain?"

"Gusto nila bigyan mo sila ng pera, bahala na sila sa pagkain," he added. "That's the kind of athletes we have."

The PSC chief said that increasing the athlete's allowance is not a solution, as they would just send a larger amount to their families.

"I honestly believe that they share sa family nila kasi 'yun ang trabaho nila. But when is it their fault and when is it our fault?" he said.

Garcia said that he understands athletes have an obligation to help their families, but not to their own disadvantage as competitors who carry the flag in international events.

"I am not anti-athlete, I'm just saying that they should be responsible on what to do with that money. The money is given to them." —Marisse Panaligan/JST, GMA News
According to the document, PCSO released the 2006 PSC share in 2007 along with the remittance for that year for a total of P2,852,480.00. It was not reflected, however, in the charity fund statement attached as Schedule B in the 2007 COA audit on PCSO.
The government corporation also disbursed P5 million in 2008 following a board resolution granting financial assistance to the MIMAROPA Regional Athletic Association and the Palarong Pambansa. This was reflected in the PCSO annual audit report under "sports development program," but not in the PSC AAR.
The 2011 remittance amounting to P5 million, meanwhile, was released as part of the P20 million lumpsum in 2013 according to PCSO.
But the problem remains - as long as PCSO do not consider the lotto as sweepstakes, the PSC will not get regular remittances from the agency, defeating the purpose of the funding provision in RA 6847.
Rationalizing finances
With a limited budget, the PSC is forced to rationalize its finances to disciplines where the Philippines has a high chance to winning a medal.
"We are in a process of prioritizing sports," Garcia said. "I-focus mo ngayon 'yung resources mo na limited into sports na you can excel internationally."
The PSC chief said the country should concentrate on sports where Filipinos do not have a physical disadvantage and lessen its emphasis on events like basketball and volleyball.
"These past three years, we have focused our attention to priority sports that are weight-related," he said, referring to combat sports.
In the last three years, Garcia said the PSC puts premium on boxing, judo, karatedo, taekwondo, and wushu, all of which deliver good results for the Philippines in the SEA Games.
Private funds
There are other disciplines, however, which consistently perform well despite funding problems. 
Softball, for example, has won gold in all but one edition of the SEA Games when the event was held.
According to Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL) Secretary-General Danny Francisco, it is up to the organization to find ways to get additional funds aside from the financial assistance provided by the government and to train their athletes within the parameters of the budget they would raise.
"I'm sure a lot of people will say kulang na kulang," he said about the government support. "We have the same concerns in terms of funding. It is not much; however, we also have to figure out how to augment the budget from the PSC."
Fortunately, ASAPHIL enjoys financial assistance from businessman Jean Henri Lhuillier, the president of Cebuana Lhuillier pawnshop and money remittance service chain. The company is the main benefactor of Philippine softball, providing monetary aid to help the athletes get the international exposure and equipment they need to be perennial champions in the SEA Games.
Other national sports associations (NSAs) also receive help from the private sector, like the MVP Sports Foundation which supports basketball, boxing, badminton, football, taekwondo, cycling, and tennis. Others, however, as not as fortunate to have steady financial backers.
The PSC, meanwhile, remains helpless in its plight when it comes to funding.
Garcia said he hopes that the Congress will amend the PSC law to redefine its share both from PAGCOR and PCSO in order to increase the current budget for sports development.
"We just feel that something should be done. Pero wala. We have been living with it for the past many years," he said. —Infographics by Jessica Bartolome/JST, GMA News