WHEN Manny Pacquiao first got elected to the Senate in 2016, one of the first bills he filed was the creation of a Philippine Boxing Commission to oversee professional boxing in the country. However, I think that measure died a natural death when it failed to hurdle the first round of debates.
In a verbal sparring with Sen. Franklin Drilon, Manny Pacquiao failed to prove that the proposed PBC won’t step on the responsibilities and scope of the existing Games and Amusements Board. Though at that time, I think, not a few wanted to see the PBC push through because they see the GAB as an ineffective agency.
Four years later, and with GAB chairman Baham Mitra showing why he’s one of the few bright spots among the Digong appointees, by being pro-active instead of reactive, we hear of another Pacman bill, this time called the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission Act of 2018 and among those who have opposed the bill is the Muay Thai Association of the Philippines.
Let’s assume for the moment that this new agency gets created, where does that leave GAB? Since it is mandated to oversee professional sports in the country, it will only have the pro leagues in basketball and football and volleyball left to manage and of course, the country’s national pastime, which is sabong. GAB rarely have to step in in disputes in basketball because the PBA pretty much have tidied things up and the same is true for football, which has a set of protocols to settle disputes.
So, the proposed agency only serves to do what is already being done at the expense of creating a new bureaucracy, something that we don’t need.
But perhaps Pacquiao’s plan is not without merit and that he is pushing for it based on his experience with GAB and as we all know, pre-2016, GAB was that strange agency we only hear from after a controversy, like how a certain commissioner acted as a trainer (or was it a second).
To be fair, GAB has shaped up since then and has initiated many dialogues designed to smooth out the problems fighters face. And instead of creating a new agency, why not strengthen the agency’s boxing and combat sports arm? Give them more funds or more teeth to go after shady promoters?
And another thing, if the Pacman is still bent on pushing for a sports-related legislation, why not enact something like the Muhammad Ali act? A law that will make sure athletes don’t get the short end of the stick in contracts?
I think that’s something all athletes—not just the fighters—will appreciate.