MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday increased the allowances of the 12 athletes bound for 2016 Rio Olympic Games from USD 1,000 to USD 3,000.
President Duterte made the announcement during the courtesy call in Malacanang of the Philippine Team to the world’s most prestigious sports event slated Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) handed President Duterte with the official red jacket of the Philippine team to Rio Olympics.
After wearing the jacket, Duterte proceeded to the podium and delivered an spontaneous speech where he announced the increased incentives that drew loud cheers from the members of the Philippine delegation.
”I will increase your allowances, sa mga athletes USD 3,000 (from USD 1,000)..USD 5,000 for the officials (from USD 2,000),” President Duterte said.
President Duterte promised to address the cash-strapped Philippines sports by using the money he vowed to collect from the ‘oligarchs who continue to wallow the filth of wealth.’
The President said the country loses at least Php300 million every day due to unpaid taxes.
”If I can just collect it, one month, two months, ibigay ko sa inyo. Tapos na ang problem ko sa at least yung ating athletes or for the poor,” President Duterte said.
President Duterte acknowledged that the lack of funds hamper the development of the Philippines sports.
”I assure you during my time, I will get the money from the pockets of those who are not paying and give it to you to train,” Duterte said.
President also called on the athletes to take advantage of the opportunity to be part of the few who represent the Philippines in the international arena.
”Of the 100 million Filipinos plus, few are given the opportunity to be party of a team or to be working in government and it’s not given to everybody. That honor is very distinct,” the President said.
Among the Olympics-bound athletes include: Eric Shawn Cray in the 400-meter hurdles event; boxers Charly Suarez (lightweight) and Rogen Ladon (light flyweight); taekwondo jin Kirstie Elain Alora (women’s +67kg); Ian Lariba in women’s singles (table tennis); weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz (women’s 53kg); Mary Joy Tabal in women’s marathon; weightlifter Nestor Colonia (men’s 56kg); long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang; golfer Miguel Tabuena; and, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna.
The Philippines has yet to win its first Olympic gold since it joined the most famous sports event in 1928.
The country’s highest achievements were two silvers courtesy of boxers Anthony Villanueva in 1964 Tokyo meet and Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
A whooping Php10 million cash incentive awaits the first Filipino Olympic gold medalist after former President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act No. 10699 that raised the amount of incentives for national athletes.
Under the new law, the silver medalist will get Php5 million while the bronze medal winner will receive Php2 million.
The Philippine delegation is set to leave for Rio de Janeiro on Friday. Jelly Musico/ PNA/ northboundasia.com