Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading a measure exempting the rewards, bonuses, and emoluments for national athletes and coaches who compete or win international sports competitions from all taxes, fees, and charges.

The chamber passed through voice voting House Bill No. 9990 or the Hidilyn Diaz Law, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.

The base bill was filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Salceda in light of the historic gold medal win by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Salceda noted that this was the first gold medal for the Philippines since it joined the Olympics in 1924, adding that the country also won two silvers courtesy of boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and the bronze of boxer Eumir Marcial for its strongest ever Olympic performance in Tokyo.

He said the proposed law will close the “room for interpretation” by clarifying that all “rewards, bonuses, and other emoluments for national athletes and coaches shall be exempt from any and all taxes.”

“The bill also makes the tax exemption executory even if BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) does not issue rules and regulations. It also specifically indicates that it does not repeal other tax privileges of national athletes and coaches,” Salceda added.

He said state investment yielded the country’s best performance in the Olympics, highlighting that the budget for Philippine sports is at P945 million for this year, which is almost four times the budgets under past presidents.

“Only under this government did we truly invest enough to give our Olympic athletes a fighting chance. I am proud to say that, under the leadership of President Duterte, the Philippine Olympic Committee got the highest-ever Olympic year budget, at P945 million,” he said.

Salceda, during his sponsorship speech, cited that Congress allotted P1.3 billion to the Philippine Olympic Committee for 2021, the highest-ever share of the national budget the committee received, at 0.03 percent.

“Clearly, investment corresponds with accomplishment. Our 2020 Olympic performance is our best ever finish. We have broken many records for our country, including our first non-exhibition gold medal, and our first multiple medal finish in eight decades,” he said.

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