Senate OKs new agency for boxing, combat sports

Filipino boxing idol and Senator Manny Pacquiao. AFP FILE PHOTO / Mohd RASFAN

The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to establish the new Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission to “promote the safety and welfare” of Filipino athletes.

“It is about time that these passionate athletes who bring honor to our country while risking their lives inside the ring be given due attention, proper aid and necessary support,” Senator Manny Pacquiao said in his sponsorship speech.

Pacquiao, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports, noted that his Senate Bill No. 1306, or the “Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission Act of 2018” would “formulate and implement a national policy on the development, safety and welfare of Filipino professional boxers and combatants.”

An amendment introduced by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon mandated the commission to provide assistance not only to local athletes and other stakeholders in professional boxing, but also to those engaged in professional “combat sports.”

The bill also formally defined combat sport as “any sport, martial art or activity that involves, in accordance to the applicable regulation, striking, kicking, hitting, grappling, throwing and or punching opponents.”

The new Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission will be composed of a chairman and four members, and will be placed under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President.

Under the bill, professional boxers and combatants will be enrolled in the Social Security System (SSS), National Health Insurance Program-Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig).

Aside from requiring physical and medical examinations in all professional boxing and combat sports matches, Pacquiao said the bill would also mandate alternative livelihood programs for retired or injured boxers and combatants.  /kga

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