Council probes grant of incentives to Baguio-based athletes

BAGUIO CITY – The Baguio City Council summoned representatives of the City Sports and Development Office and the City Accounting Office to shed light on the qualifications of athletes in the city for the grant of cash incentives.

This, after the office of Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales, Chairperson of Sanggunian’s Committee on Youth Welfare and Sports Development, received complaints from athletes who were allegedly denied of their cash incentives granted by the City Government of Baguio after winning in sports events during the 2019 SouthEast Asian Games held in the country.

Sports Officer Gaudencio Gonzales and Accountant III Pedro Sawac Jr. revealed there were 31 athletes residing in the city who had garnered awards during the 2019 SEA Games. All of them received cash incentives from the national government. Of the number, 28 athletes were proven to be home-grown Baguio athletes, thus were given their due incentives. Three athletes, however, had their incentives withheld due to lack of documents to prove they are Baguio-based athletes.

Gonzales and Sawac clarified that these three athletes were NOT disqualified from the grant. They said the three athletes were required to produce a document that will establish that they are Baguio-based athletes. 

Based on the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Ordinance 20-2016 (Adopting the New Sports Incentives Ordinance of the City of Baguio), athletes should be accredited for them to be able to claim incentives. The athlete must submit proof of membership in a sports organization/school/club/discipline/association, or a barangay certification as proof of residency, or a photocopy of the athlete’s school ID.

The council underscored that only one of the aforementioned documents would suffice for the athlete’s accreditation and entitlement to the incentive.

Ordinance 20-2016 defines a Baguio-based athlete as an individual who, by himself or as a member of a team, is allowed to participate in any individual or team sports competition in representation of the city by reason of his enrolment in a school in the city, membership in an accredited sports club, organization, or discipline that is located and operating within the city, official function or simply his residency in the city.

Further, a baguio-based athlete is one who has qualified and is allowed to represent the city in individual or team sports events in a regional, national, or international sports competition.

City Accountant Antonio Tabin stressed that athletes winning in international competitions such as the SEA Games are representing the entire country and not necessarily their localities.

Councilor Micheal Lawana, however, refuted Tabin’s claim stating any Baguio-based athlete, whether the sports event he participated in was local or international, is entitled to receive the sports cash incentive granted by the local government.

Further scrutiny revealed that, as per Ordinance 20-2016, national athletes who are Baguio-based and professional athletes who are likewise Baguio-based, as well as their coaches, MAY BE granted special cash incentives in addition to national cash incentives or cash prizes granted or earned in their events.

Councilor Benny Bomogao then urged the Sanggunian to revisit Ordinance 20-2016 and look into its possible amendment to clarify whether or not the city should grant incentives to Baguio-based athletes representing the country.   – Jordan G. Habbiling