THE long-awaited issuance of discount identification cards and booklets for national team members is being targeted to be completed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) within the month.

In compliance with Revenue Regulations (R.R) No. 13-2020, which spur further implementation of Republic Act (R.A.) 10699, or the “National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act,” the PSC has been busy releasing the IDs and booklets despite the challenges presented by lockdown conditions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are doing our best to deliver everything within this month even though there are lockdowns due to the pandemic and the limited work force. We are doing our best to comply with it … [by the] third week of September we should have sent the last batch,” said Manuel Bitog, Chief of Assistance and Coordination Division and head of the PSC frontline personnel, in a statement.

“Most of the athletes wrote as address the RMSC (Rizal Memorial Sports Complex) dormitory and the PhilSports dormitory. That’s why we had to get their updated addresses first,” added Mr. Bitog, noting that the PSC decided to send the athletes home as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus.

Under R.R. 13-2020, signed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III early this year on the recommendation of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay, qualified beneficiaries will be entitled to a 20% discount on goods and services, similar to those given to senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

Qualified beneficiaries are those who compete in international sports competitions which do not grant prize money and must be duly recognized and accredited by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the Philippine Paralympic Committee and the National Sports Associations.

The law provides discounts to national team members in the purchase of goods and services like food, medicine and sports equipment. It also grants deduction on transportation fares, room accommodations, restaurants, recreation centers, cinemas, and other amusement areas.

In turn, “business establishments granting sales discounts to national athletes and coaches on their sale of goods and/or services shall be entitled to deduct the said sales discount from their gross income,” the regulation reads.

Benefits and privileges may be availed of by those who are qualified upon presentation of their Philippine National Sports Team Identification Card and Booklet to privately owned establishments.

“We have always been supportive of our athletes and coaches and we hope this privilege helps in easing their burdens caused by COVID-19,” said PSC Chairman William Ramirez of the discount privilege given to national team members.

For bemedalled triathlete and Philippine Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission officer Nikko Huelgas, the release of the regulation was a step in the right direction.

“I’m very happy to see the regulation being acknowledged more and more by people from the top where they can greatly influence the [business] establishments in acknowledging this (privilege) more,” said the two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medallist in an earlier interview. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo