ERIC Buhain practically knows what ails Philippine sports. After all, he led the country’s two leading government sports agencies – the Philippine Sports Commission and the Games and Amusements Board – as chairman, apart from being an Olympian, SEA Games record holder and Philippine Sports Hall-of-Famer.
Elected last May as congressman for the 1st District of Batangas, Buhain vows to make the best out of his knowledge and experiences as he is proposing a bill that will strengthen the power of both the PSC and GAB in the aspect of overseeing and accountability over sports associations, while assuring security and additional incentives to athletes and coaches.
“Sports is the right of every Filipino and not a privilege for some individual or group. Not for members only or club affiliation only. Kailangan nating mabigyan ng tunay na pagkalinga ang ating mga atleta at pananagutin ‘yung mga sports associations na talagang nagpapabaya sa kanilang mga responsibilidad,” said Buhain during the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports ‘Usapang Sports’ on Thursday at the Behrouz Restaurant in Timog, Quezon City
“Nagpapasalamat ako aking mga kasamahan sa Kongreso at ako ay nabigyan ng pagkakataon na maging co-chairman ng Youth and Sports, as well as the Games and Amusements Committee. Right now, with the help of my former colleagues, sportsmen and friends, nabuo namin itong three priority bills na ipo-propsose ko sa Kongreso,” added Buhain in the weekly sports forum sponsored by the PSC, GAB, Pagcor and Behrouz, as the official venue.
Buhain said he will refile House Bill 8910 (An Act to Strengthening the Games and Amusements Board) with the major purpose of establishing an ‘Athelete’s Welfare Fund’ for retired professional athletes. The said bill was unanimously approved in the thrid and final reading by the 17th Congress in 2019.
“Napakaimportante ng bill na ito dahil nakapaloob din dito ‘yung power to prescribe rules sa regulation and supervision ng sabong, e-sabong, esports and other pro sports. Mas mabibigyan natin ng ngipin ang GAB para masawat ‘yung mga illegal bookies and other activities within pro sports,” said Buhain.
Additional power over the National Sports Associations is the second priority bill of Buhain, while the third is the Philippine Olympian Bill, which the former swimming champion conceptualized with the help of fellow Olympian Akiko Thomson and Ral Rosario and mentor and another Olympian coach Carlos ‘Pinky’ Brosas.
Brosas, who joined Buhain in the forum, said it’s now time to give more support to Filipino Olympians, particularly those who retired without permanent jobs and savings.
“Health care, pension and possibly regular job for our retired Olympians. Ilan lang ang Olympians natin, nasa 300 lang yata kami at marami na ang nawala, just last night we received the sad news of Diay’s demise,” said Brosas, referring to former Olympian and Asia’s Sprint Queen Lydia De Vega, who died Wednesday night after a long bout with breast cancer.