GAMES and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra only has one bit of advice to whoever succeeds him at the helm of the government agency regulating professional sports in the country.
“No bias,” Mitra told Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Mitra, a former three-term congressman and governor of Palawan before being appointed by President Duterte as GAB chairman in 2016, said he followed this veary simple formula during his term at GAB.
“It worked,” he said. “You don’t have to be biased. Always be fair.”
“Remember that you are the GAB chairman of the whole Philippines and not for a certain gym or a certain province,” the 52-year-old official said.
The term of GAB chairman is co-terminus with that of the president, which ends on June 30—meaning a new chairman and two commissioners will have to be named soon.
“I’m okay. I’m ready to go. I’m excited to go back to private life,” Mitra told the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Milo, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Unilever, Amelie Hotel Manila and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Mitra said he is clueless on his successor.
“So far, no communication and no news. We are giving courtesy to the president,” said Mitra, who is looking forward to a smooth transition to the next administration.
“Our transition was very smooth. We sat down with then chairman Ramon Guanzon and called everybody to present the status of the agency,” added Mitra, who presented in the forum a short video highlight of his term.
Mitra is proud of his accomplishments as GAB chairman, and admitted facing serious challenges caused by the deadly pandemic.
“But we revived sports even during the pandemic,” said Mitra, who watched with glee as the situation improved the past year and saw the return of professional sports and events on all levels.
The only regret, Mitra said, was that because of the lack of funds, he wasn’t able to fully provide the assistance to retired pro athletes, including those in the brutal sport of boxing, and even their promoters.
“We regret that we don’t have the funds for our retired professional athletes. I wished we had funds for their monthly pension or housing, insurance and health care,” he said. “I have some frustrations.”
“But I am leaving behind a vibrant and adaptive government office. Philippine professional sports grew tremendously during the time of President Duterte,” said Mitra, who is stepping down with his head held high.