Before President Rodrigo R. Duterte ends his six-year term, he will again open the doors of Malacañang to Filipino medalists of the recently-concluded 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday, May 30, 2022.
The Philippines finished fourth overall in the biennial Games in the 11-nation competition, hauling a total of 52 gold medals, 70 silvers, and 105 bronzes behind top three host Vietnam (205-125-116), Thailand (92-103-136), and Indonesia 69-91-81).
The President, at the start of his governance in 2016, opened the Palace doors to welcome, send off, or honor national athletes – a gesture that the athletes never experienced from past administrations.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez, in a previous press statement, said that a SEA Games individual gold medalist will receive P300,000 while the silver and bronze winners will claim P150,000, and P60,000, respectively, under the Republic Act No. 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.
The PSC chief said, “But knowing the President, it’s his style to give additional cash bonuses to the athletes aside from what has been provided for by law once they visit him in Malacañang.”
He said it’s fortunate that Congress appropriated money to fund the Team Philippines’ training, needs, and foreign exposures for the Hanoi sporting meet amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PSC bankrolled P232 million for the Games stint of the 980-member delegation that consisted of 641 athletes and 210 coaches in 38 sports. It covered the plane tickets, hotel and billeting, and allowances of athletes and coaches, among other operational expenses.
Ramirez praised the President’s strong support as well as those in the private sector who also continue to give additional bonuses to the medalists.
Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz will lead the list of athletes who will be in attendance in Malacañang.
World titlist Carlos Edriel Yulo will be P1.5 million richer just by the P300,000 cash bonus per individual gold won in Hanoi as he brought home five golds in the artistic men’s individual all-around, artistic men’s still rings, artistic men’s floor exercise, artistic men’s high bar, and artistic men’s vault table events.
Former world champion Rubilen Amit, for her part, will receive P600,000.
Meanwhile, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go earlier said he will try to seek more incentives for the Filipino medalists as a way to motivate them to train and work hard.
Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Sports, said, “I cannot speak on behalf of the President lalung-lalo na po patapos na ang kanyang termino, lalung lalo na sa mga incentives ‘no. Pero, I will push for it. Kung kaya pa ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Duterte na magbigay isa-suggest ko po (I cannot speak on behalf of the President on the cash incentives considering that his term is ending. But I will push for it. If the administration of President Duterte can still give, I will suggest it).”
Medalists who smashed current Philippine records, SEA Games standards, or world records in any measurable international competition may also be eligible for cash rewards, as established by the PSC.
He thanked the Filipino athletes for giving honor and pride to the country. “Isang mataas na pagsaludo din sa lahat ng mga manlalaro natin, sa kanilang mga coaches at mga trainors na naghanda sa mahabang panahon para sa palarong ito (A big salute also to all our players, their coaches and trainers who have prepared for a long time for this game).”
The Dabawenyo senator, in a press statement on May 28, 2022, lauded the government’s efforts to fully support the delegation’s training and other needs, also appealing for the government to continue strengthening sports programs, financial aid, and infrastructure to help the athletes succeed.
“Marami nang magagandang idinulot ang ating mga efforts para masuportahan ang atletang Pilipino at mapalakas ang sports development programs sa bansa. Paigtingin pa natin lalo ito (Our efforts to support Filipino athletes and strengthen sports development programs in the country have brought many benefits. Let’s intensify it even more),” Go said.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, HE pushed for the allocation of sufficient funding for the preparation, training, and participation of Filipino athletes in the 2022 SEA Games. He also pushed for funding for the site development and preparation of the Master Development Plan of the Philippine Sports Training Center.
He also authored and co-sponsored Republic Act No. 11470, establishing the National Academy of Sports (NAS) in 2020.
The NAS is a government-run academy aimed at developing the country’s future athletes by offering quality secondary education with a special curriculum on sports for gifted young Filipinos who want to enhance their physical and mental capabilities in sports. It officially started its first academic year on September 13, 2021.