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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

31 August 2021 03:24:57 PM

The House of Representatives today unanimously passed a bill seeking to exempt from taxes the incentives, rewards and bonuses received by national athletes and their coaches, particularly those who competed and won in the recently concluded Tokyo Summer Olympics.

With 205 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention, the legislative chamber approved on third and final reading the bipartisan House Bill (HB) 9990 or the proposed “Hidilyn Diaz Act” authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and 90 other lawmakers belonging to both the majority and minority blocs.

Velasco said the tax exemptions provided for under the bill “represent the token of gratitude and appreciation of Congress and the entire nation to Filipino athletes who have brought joy, pride and glory to the country.”

“This is our way of giving back to our exceptional national athletes, a well-deserved reward for their perseverance and hard work,” Velasco pointed out.

Inspired by the historic gold medal win of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the Tokyo Games, HB 9990 seeks to amend Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act that was enacted in 2015.

It aims to exempt from taxes the incentives, rewards, bonuses and other forms of emoluments, as well as donations, gifts, endowments and contributions, from private or public persons or entities, received by national athletes who compete or win in international sports competition. The proposed tax exemption shall also cover the incentives and rewards received by their respective coaches.

Velasco expressed his gratitude to House Committee on Ways and Means chair Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda and other authors of the measure for their “enthusiastic support” for HB 9990.

“We thank Chair Salceda and others in acknowledging the merits of our national athletes bringing pride and glory to the country through their exemplary performances in international sports competition,” Velasco said.

“With additional support and financial incentives such as those provided in HB 9990, we hope to encourage more local athletes to push themselves further and continue to bring honor to the Philippines,” he added.

Earlier, the House adopted a resolution—principally authored by Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano—congratulating and thanking the entire Philippine Olympic delegation for its “highly successful and historic performance” in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“The exceptional and remarkable finish of the athletes and their coaches during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games highlights the indomitable Filipino spirit to rise above adversities and ushers in a new era of sports heroes who bring joy and inspiration to our fellow Filipinos amid the difficult conditions brought about by the pandemic,” the three House leaders stated in the resolution.

The congressional leaders cited how the Philippines emerged as the best performing Southeast Asian country in the Tokyo Olympics and surpassed its three bronze record set during the Los Angeles Games in 1932.

This historic breakthrough, they said, was achieved by the Philippine Olympic delegation composed of 19 athletes, with their respective coaches and trainers, who competed in 11 different sporting events.

They said Filipino athletes and their coaches “displayed their sportsmanship during the global multi-sports event and secured a spectacular four-medal haul,” including one gold by Diaz, two silver medals by Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paaalam, and one bronze by Eumir Marcial.

Diaz led the crop of Filipino athletes by capturing the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the country, ending its 97-year pursuit for the elusive gold; while Petecio, Paalam and Marcial held the distinction of representing the most triumphant boxing group in the nation’s history.

The House had also adopted four separate resolutions awarding the Congressional Medal of Excellence to Diaz and the Congressional Medal of Distinction to Petecio, Paalam and Marcial. #