House approves bill to strengthen Games and Amusement Board

January 29, 2019
Donnie Nietes
Games and Amusement Board (GAB) Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra and his commissioners Eduard Trinidad and Mar Masanguid pose for photographs with boxing champion Donnie Nietes during the World Boxing Council (WBC) Convention in Manila.

IN  recognition of its good work as the government body tasked to supervise and regulate all professional sports, the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) under Chairman  Abraham “Baham” Mitra deserves to get all the support it needs to help it perform better.

This was the assessment of the House of Representatives Committee on Games and Amusement, headed by Rep. Gus Tambunting, which approved a measure to strengthen the GAB and help it enforce the laws relevent to professional sports.

In a House Bill 4843, also known as “An Act strengthening the Games and Amusement Board and for other purposes”, the House of Representatives approved the measure “seeking for provision of expanded powers to GAB for enforcement of laws relevant to professional sports, in connection with the developments of new forms of professional sports and modes of betting systems because of new technology.”

Authored by the late Rep. Rodel Batocabe and Rep. Winston Castelo, the bill will also give the GAB,  a government agency under the Office of the President, the power to supervise betting on horseracing.

Under the proposed Bill, GAB shall also be mandated to supervise and regulate other forms of amusement like beauty pageants, concerts, and maintenance of theme parks.

Last Jan.17, Rep. Joseph Sto.Niño B. Bernos also filed HB 6983, also known as  the “Act strengthening the role of GAB in the operation of cockfighting in the Philippines”.

The bill, which hopes to amend  the Cockfighting Law of 1974 and for  other purposes, seeks to  provide GAB the authority to establish a set of uniform rules and regulations enforceable to all cockpits in the country.

The said bill will also seek to provide GAB the mandate to regulate the proliferation of internet-based betting system for cockfighting.

GAB presently is the agency which regulates the conduct of international derbies, while local derbies was devolved to the Local Government Units since the devolution of the Philippine Gamefowl Commission.

After the filing of HB 4843, Tambunting has formed a Technical Working Group (TWG) headed by Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar (PBA Party-list).

The TWG reviewed the respective powers and jurisdiction powers of GAB and LGU over gaming activities, has considered the recommendations of the committee members.

The TWG also modified various provisions which includes the definition of “professional sports or competitions” and “professional athlete”, and the rest day period of boxers.

The replacement of Athletes’ Welfare Fund to Trust Fund was also considered to cover all the professional athletes, not only boxers.

The House Committee has finally approved the Substitute Bill of House Bills 4843 and 6983 after the recommendations of the TWG and approval of the Committee Members from series of deliberations during Committee meetings and amendments.

Mitra and his two commissioners – Mario Masanguid and Eduard Trinidad – welcomed the  filing of the bill  in the House of Representaives and added that approval  of a counrerpart measure in the Senate will  enable  the government sports agency to perform its mandate better.

“It’s a good development for professional sports,. It’s a win-win solution for all of us” said Mitra in an interview with People’s Tonight.  

“We’re very happy to see the HB 4843 get an approval from the House. Now , it’s the turn of the Senate.”

Mitra said the GAB  will now push  the bill to become a law and expect for sponsorship of counterpart measure at the Senate.