The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a bill lowering the compulsory retirement age of racehorse jockeys from 60 to 55 years old.
The measure, sponsored by National Unity Party (NUP) lawmakers Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) and Magtanggol Gunigundo (2nd district, Valenzuela), aims to reduce job-related risks for racehorse jockeys and allow them to enjoy retirement perks, such as Social Security benefits, at an earlier time.
Nograles, who chairs the House committee on labor and employment, and Gunigundo, sponsored House Bill 4133, which substituted the original measure providing for the lower retirement age for racehorse jockeys.
"The measure will institutionalize the retirement age of jockeys at 55 years old, regardless of their mental and physical abilities which was set earlier by the Philippine Racing Commission (PHILRACOM), the regulatory body governing the racing industry," Gunigundo said.
He noted that while the Philracom had already set the retirement age at 55, jockeys still have to wait for five more years before they can get to enjoy retirement benefits.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada has filed a counterpart measure, Senate Bill 129, setting the retirement age of jockeys at 55. The bill is pending at the committee level in the Senate.
The Philippine Jockeys Association has expressed its full support for HB 4133 and SB 129.
Gunigundo noted that “racehorse jockeys are required to be in tip-top shape at all times and should maintain the 100-pound limit. They are also obliged to do strenuous activities with their mount, and during actual competition they compete at breakneck speed to engross the horse owner and amuse the audience.”
He said these physical demands that jockeys have to endure require them to retire earlier to allow them to “enjoy the fruits of their labor longer” and lessen risks to their health.
Dr. Benjamin Vitasa, the executive director of the Employee’s Compensation Commission (ECC), said that a jockey reaches his prime at 30 years old. This starts to diminish when he reaches 40.
Gunigundo said the bill was extensively discussed during the 14th Congress by the House Committee on Labor and Employment and was approved on third and final reading. During the 15th Congress, it was again re-filed and was again approved by the plenary on third and final reading, but because of lack of material time on the part of the Senate, the measure was not enacted into law.