Lydia De Vega bill filed to provide nat'l athletes and coaches gov't benefits

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 26) — The Lydia De Vega Act of 2022, named after the late Sprint Queen of Asia, was filed to give outstanding Filipino athletes and coaches a chance to have government-mandated careers and benefits.

House Bill 4654, filed by Ang Probinsyano Rep. Alfred Delos Santos, seeks to provide decorated Filipino athletes and coaches with regular government positions, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) membership, and even priority athlete benefits.

De Vega was a Filipino track and field athlete who competed in the Southeast Asian Games and was a two-time Olympian.

She retired in 1994 and died in 2022 after a four-year battle with breast cancer. At the peak of her career, she was named Asia's Fastest Woman.

"HB 4654 creates regular positions with matching relevant qualifications and salary grades for National Athletes and National Coaches…[it] also provides a monthly ₱3,000 Priority Athlete Benefit and GSIS membership for their retirement," Delos Santos said Saturday.

The plantilla positions would entitle national athletes and coaches to monthly income ranging from salary grades six to 21. This would be funded by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

As defined by the measure, priority athletes are those who won medals during international competitions.

Under the bill, they will receive ₱3,000 monthly for a period of 12 months after their win.

"Although the current system has provided them with allowance, this mechanism is still not sufficient and is haunted by uncertainties," the party-list solon said.

"In fact, the allowances of national athletes were reduced to half for a period of time during the onset of the pandemic because of a lack of available funds," he also said. "Many athletes rely on the allowance to support not only themselves but also their families."

In 2020, the PSC cut the allowances of national athletes in half amid the pandemic. However, the amount was later restored after former President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bayanihan 2 Act into law.

HB 4654 is currently pending in the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development.