LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Senator and eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao has asked the Games and Amusement Board for the release of the financial assistance it gives to retired world boxing champions which is now eight months delayed.
Pacquiao reacted to the call of former World Boxing Council world lightweight Rolando Jojo Pascua, now a part time construction worker, who asked the senator’s help in the release of his monthly stipend from the GAB which he said has been remiss for eight months now.
“Malaking tulong sa pang-araw namin eto (This will be a great help for our daily sustenance),” cried the former world boxing champion in a story posted by Radyo Inquirer, even as Pacquiao assured that he will talk with GAB regarding the delay.
But GAB has earlier said that the money is a financial assistance, not a pension, and that it comes from Thai philanthropist Naris Singwangcha.
Started in June 2018, it was supposedly meant to help out 20 former world champions that included former high profile boxers like Dodie Boy Penalosa, Luisito Espinosa and the Bad Boy from Dadiangas, Rolando Navarette.
In an open letter published on its Facebook wall, GAB said that it has stopped giving the monthly assistance to the 20 former world champion because the fund for it has been depleted. It added that it has not been replenished yet by the benefactor, and not otherwise as alleged by one of the beneficiaries, Pascua in particular.
GAB in the statement said that Singwangcha started in June 2018 giving a P3,000 monthly assistance to the former boxing champions but has stopped giving money since last year due to the pandemic.
GAB wrote: “But last March 3, Mr. Singwangcha wrote us through Mr. Brico Santig that due to the pandemic, the MOA, signed by GAB and Singwangcha, for financial assistance will not continue and that the latter will only give for the last nine months.”
However, Singwangcha has not given the promised money for the last nine months yet.
GAB further wrote: “GAB has not received the funds from Mr. Singwangcha, so it can not release any money to the world boxing champions.”
In June of 2018, Singwangcha, through its foundation, released some US$16,500 (roughly PHP900,000) to be used for the benefits of the 20 former world boxing champions.
The assistance was worked out by GAB through its chairman Abraham Mitra and commissioners Ed Trinidad and Mar Masangid that led to GAB and Singwangcha entering into a memorandum of agreement to effect the steady release of the monthly financial assistance.
The money was given in several trenches and through several channels including Santig of Highland Boxing Promotions and the same were given to the former world champions on a monthly basis. Santig is a confidant of Singwangcha and has a gym in Bangkok, Thailand, where his family stays.
The 20 former world boxing champions are: International Boxing Federation world flyweight champion Tacy Macalos, IBF World minimumweight tilist Eric Chavez, World Boxing Association World Flyweight Joma Gamboa, Bernabe Villacampo (WBA flyweight), Rene Barrientos (World Boxing Council super featherweight), Erbito Salavarria (WBC flyweight), Ben Villaflor (WBA super featherweight), Rolando Navarette (WBC super featherweight), Frank Cendeno (WBC flyweight), Bobby Berna (IBF super bantamweight), Dodie Boy Penalosa (IBF light flyweight), Rolando Bohol (IBF flyweight), Manny Melchor (IBF minimumweight), Morris East (WBA super lightweight), Luisito Espinosa (WBA bantamweight), Malcolm Tunacao (WBC flyweight), , Gerry Penalosa (WBC superflyweight), Eric Jamili (World Boxing Organization minimumweight), Florante Condes (IBF minimumweight) and Pascua.
GAB said the money had been depleted and as early as September of last year, it has written Singwangcha on the release of succeeding funds.
But Singwangcha said that his businesses had been affected by the pandemic and asked to put a stop on the monthly assistance he gives to the boxers through GAB.
The Thai even said that he will give and make it 10 months or P30,000 each and after that, it will end. Santig said Singwangcha has sent him US$9,000 or roughly P450,000 which will be enough to cover “for each former champion (about 10 or 11 champions).” The money, Santig said, he will be sending to GAB.
“Please express my apologies to Chairman Mitra,” Singwangcha wrote Santig, who admitted that the last tranch of money he sent was in January 25 of last year, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and that has prevented him from going to the Philippines.
Singwangcha said that he wants “to help people as much as I can,” but the pandemic had been bad for his business that he ended that specific GAB project.
Santig said that he hopes the matter will be settled and Mitra is not to be blamed for the delay since the money comes from Singwangcha as a financial assistance and not as a pension.
“It is not a pension. It is a financial aid,” Santig said.
He further asked the boxer to wait since the pandemic has affected Singwangcha’s business but is still very eager to help Filipino boxers affected by the pandemic.
In August last year, Singwangcha sent money to help Filipino boxers and which was utilized to purchase grocery items for them.
“We are expecting another ‘community pantry’ from Mr. Singwangcha soon, in the form of grocery items for our boxers from Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon including our boxers here,” Santig added.
GAB added: “GAB is not interested in the funds sent by Mr. Singwangcha. And if there are funds given, we will make sure that the boxers will get it.”