June 17, 2024

Notwithstanding the many challenges faced by our athletes in the Cordillera, we continue to hold them in high regard and hope they will receive more support to develop their fullest potential in sports and in other fields they so choose in their future endeavors.
We are concerned about the recent revelation of the city administrator of Baguio about the looming deficit in the budget allocated for city athletes as incentive for their achievement in their field.
This is concerning as our athletes are preparing for the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (Caraa) Meet 2024 next month.
Just as the city government has firmed up the guidelines in the giving of incentives for city athletes, we hear about budgets being drastically short of the required funds.
Equally distressing is the revelation that the city government still owes our athletes P7.5 million for winning medals in national and international competitions in 2023 and a measly P4.5M was allocated for 2024.
With these, there is obviously low or zero chances of getting the incentives from the previous year, unless a supplement budget is passed. But this can only happen if the Local Finance Committee is able to identify a source of funds of where to obtain and augment the deficit.
According to the City Sports Office, the deficit was due to the increase and removal of the limit of the amount of incentives that athletes may receive, in accordance with the City Sports Code.
To address this, the CSO suggested revisiting the incentives provision in the City Sports Code but with the ambiguous suggestion that “only athletes with prior authorization from the city” should be given an incentive.
To us, this suggestion will only add to the bureaucratic process by which incentives can be availed.
Prior to the approval of the Sports Code, the CSDO and all stakeholders have been consulted. With this, it should have been anticipated that an increase in incentive is equal to also increasing the budget for every year.
It is saddening that sports is again put on the backburner when the Sports Code was passed supposedly in response to the clamor of athletes who have, for years, lamented about the lack of recognition from the city they are representing.
The news came just as Baguio is cementing its reputation as the “sports mecca” north of Manila with its athletes dominating national tournaments such as the Batang Pinoy and the Philippine National Games, especially in combat sports.
Despite meager budget, Baguio’s neighboring towns and provinces have been increasing the budget for the training and incentive of their athletes in recognition of the fact that sports is also an integral part in the development of a nation’s human resource.
Why then is Baguio sliding back when as a highly-urbanized city, it should be at the forefront of policies?
The city government, admittedly spends on a lot, and which requires for resources to be spread out in order for more sectors to be reached. But withholding the release of what is due to some people is also unfair. They gave recognition to their institution and their city; its time our city athletes should also get the reward they so rightly deserve.
In the meantime that remedial measures are being decided by the powers that be, we ask our athletes and their coaches not to lose heart and maintain that fighting spirit and beat the odds.