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Senate OKs Pacquiao’s ‘pet bill’ on new special body for boxing, combat sports

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Voting 20-0-0, the Senate on Monday approved a bill establishing a boxing and combat sports body, a “brainchild” of Senator Manny Pacquiao.

The senators approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1308, authored and sponsored by Pacquiao, creating the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission.

The new commission aims to “promote the safety and welfare” of Filipino boxers and combat sports 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,” Pacquiao.

SBN 1308 creates alternative livelihood programs for retired or injured boxers and combatants, said Pacquiao, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports.

He said the new sports body 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 Frank 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 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.”

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).

Pacquiao said the bill would require physical and medical examinations, as well as emergency medical services, in all professional boxing and combat sports matches.

“We are aware that some have met their untimely death due to the lack, if not absence, of safety and emergency medical services while others face retirement without any kind of financial assistance or access to medical care,” he said.

He said the country has a “huge potential” when it comes to boxing and similar sports, noting the successful careers of Filipino boxers like Pancho Villa, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Rolando Navarette, Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Penalosa.

“How many more of the likes of Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes and Brian Viloria are waiting to be given the chance to give pride and honor to our country?” Pacquiao asked.

The 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.