Hidilyn fever rages in House: No tax bill for national athletes filed

- BY JOVEE MARIE N. DELA CRUZ @joveemarie With Rene Acosta

ASIDE from the congressio­nal award, House Committee on Ways and Means and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Wednesday filed the “Hidilyn Diaz Act of 2021,” exempting monetary donations and rewards in favor of national athletes and coaches from taxes.

Salceda said his proposal seeks to amend Republic Act 10699, or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.

The bill proposes to insert a new section in the said law to provide “exemption of rewards, bonuses, and other forms of emoluments in favor of national athletes and coaches who compete or win internatio­nal sports competitio­ns as defined in this act from any and all taxes, fees, and charges levied by any government agency, local or national, subject to the rules and regulation­s to be issued by the Secretary of Finance, as recommende­d by the commission­er of Internal Revenue.”

“The honor that Filipino athletes have brought to the country this year is immense and historic. So unpreceden­ted is this honor that it appears our laws were unable to anticipate the outpouring of material solidarity from different sectors of society for our winning athletes and coaches,” said Salceda.

“In view of the need to recognize this historic win, and to express the State’s solidarity and congratula­tions for our winning athletes and coaches, this bill will exempt rewards for national athletes and coaches who compete or win in internatio­nal sports competitio­ns from any and all taxes, fees, and charges,” he added.

Diaz is expected to receive incentives and rewards: P10 million as mandated by Republic Act 10699, P10 million from San Miguel Corporatio­n, P10 million from MVP Sports Foundation, P3 million from Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-PACMAN Party-list, P2.5 million from Zamboanga City, P5 million cash and free fuel for life from Phoenix Petroleum, P14 million residentia­l condominiu­m unit in Eastwood, Quezon City from Megaworld, P4-million house and lot from Century Properties and house and lot in Tagaytay from Philippine Olympic Committee.

Diaz will also receive lifetime free flights from Airasia Philippine­s and 80,000 free miles per year for life from Philippine Airlines.

Cash gifts

IN a news conference, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero, meanwhile, said lawmakers are eyeing to raise P5 million to P10 million cash for the Filipina weightlift­er.

According to Romero, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has initiated the move by giving P200,000.

“He[ vela sco]i snow passing the hat to every congressme­n and congresswo­men for additional cash incentives for Diaz,” the house leader said.

He said 40 lawmakers have pledged to give money.


DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, meanwhile, filed House Resolution 2019 asking the House to congratula­te and commend Mindanaono­n Diaz for winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Summer Olympics last Monday.

“Hidilyn Diaz is a true inspiratio­n to many Filipinos and she has definitely shown that Filipinos can compete with the best of the world and excel at the highest level,” he said in Resolution 2019.

He said the Filipino weightlift­er’s triumph “was even more impressive, given that she has been away from home and was stranded in Malaysia since February 2020 due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.”

“In her temporary home, Hidilyn had to improvise and train with makeshift equipment because of the travel restrictio­ns and closure of gyms. She began training only with barbells made from plastic pipes with cast concrete weights at either end,” Rodriguez said.

Legion of Honor

DEPUTY Speaker and Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar also on Wednesday urged President Duterte to confer the Philippine Legion of Honor to Diaz.

As the country prepares for a hero’s welcome for Diaz, Villar filed House Resolution 2020 to congratula­te and commend the Filipino weightlift­ing star for her unpreceden­ted victory, which brought hope in this time of pandemic.

“It is high time to confer to the four-time Olympian the Philippine Legion of Honor [Lehiyong Pandangal ng Pilipinas] for her heartwarmi­ng victory and for uplifting national glory and pride in the world sports stage,” Villar wrote in the resolution.

The Philippine Legion of Honor, considered the highest award the President can bestow without the need for approval by Congress, is conferred upon civilians or members of the military, Filipino or foreign, in recognitio­n of valuable and meritoriou­s service in relation to military affairs of the Philippine­s.

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