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House panel considering monthly pension for retired Olympians

MANILA, Philippines — The House youth and sports committee on Wednesday considered a legislation that would provide retired Filipino olympians with a lifetime monthly pension of at least P15,000 — an amount that a lawmaker said would honor the athletes’ lifetime of “perseverance and sacrifice.”

House Bill 3523 seeks to provide retired Filipino Olympians who reach the age of 50 with a fixed monthly premium separate from the mandatory retirement benefits availed under existing laws regardless of performance.  

The measure amends Republic Act (RA) 10699 or the Sports Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001, which grants a lump sum amount only to retired national athletes and coaches who previously won in an international competition. The cash grant is equivalent to 25% of the recipient’s incentives computed from the start of their active sports career as a member of the national training pool up to the last day of retirement from active competition.

Athletes in most sports typically retire by their 30s to 40s,  after which it may be “too late to start a new career,” forcing some to work jobs “far from what they are passionate about,” said Rep. Eric Buhain (Batangas, 1st District), the author of House Bill 3523 and himself a former competitive swimmer turned sport administrator. 

“While it takes a lifetime to be considered an Olympian, their actual career span is short,” Buhain added.

The Philippines has at least 100 living Olympians at present, based on the Philippine Olympians Association’s monitoring.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the governing body of the Olympic Games, has long been concerned about the career transition prospects of competing athletes. 

In a white paper published on its website, the IOC described how all athletes must eventually prepare to transition away from their elite sports career, especially as “athletes will have little to no experience of a full-time job,” and some may have “missed out on college or university due to your sporting commitments.”

Buhain said that his bill would help “rectify the situation by recognizing the retired FIlipino Olympians’ exceptional service and providing essentials that benefit them.”

“We are