FORMER speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday, May 28, 2021, commended the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for heeding the Philippine Olympic Committee’s (POC's) request for Filipino athletes to be vaccinated, including the country’s representatives to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
In a Facebook Live during the inoculation at Prince Hotel in Manila on May 28, Cayetano said vaccination is a good way for the government to show the Philippine athletic representatives they are “not being forgotten.”
“N’ung 2019, wala tayong kamalay-malay na magkakaroon ng worldwide pandemic, sobra ang hirap at sakripisyo at dedikasyon n’ung ating mga atleta na ipaglaban ang ating watawat, itaas talaga ang bandera ng Pilipinas,” he said.
(In 2019, when we had no idea that there would be a worldwide pandemic, our athletes sacrificed a lot and showed dedication in fighting for our flag. They really raised our flag high.)
“So ngayon naman, sila naman ang nangangailangan (Now they are the ones who need our help),” continued Cayetano, who served as Chairman of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) during the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2019.
A total of 700 Tokyo-bound athletes and coaches, paralympic athletes, and basketball athletes received the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday.
The Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed from last year because of the global pandemic, will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
As of May 22, nine Filipino athletes have qualified for the Olympics, while 50 more are still in the qualification process.
Cayetano thanked National Task Force against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for taking a “giant step forward” in making sure the athletes are protected long before flying to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Sari-sari ngayon ang problema at opinyon sa Olympics kasi nga basta may gathering, mas mataas ang risk. Isipin n’yo po kung paaalisin natin ‘yung mga atleta natin nang hindi fully vaccinated. At the very least we have to make sure that they’re as safe as they can be,” Cayetano said.
(There are many problems and opinions on the Olympics because where there are gatherings, the risks are greater. Think of the risks for our athletes if they leave without being fully vaccinated. At the very least, we have to make sure that they’re as safe as they can be.)
Cayetano also called on the Filipinos to support and pray for the country’s “symbols” of “discipline, passion, patriotism.”
“Importante sa isang bansa ang symbolism kasi, ano ba ang material price ng isang medalya? Pero ‘yung pride ng bansa mo, ‘yun pong example sa kabataan na ‘wag mag-drugs, ‘wag uminom, eat healthy, ‘wag magsigarilyo -- priceless ‘yun eh, at ‘yon makikita mo sa mga atleta,” he said.
(Symbolism is important for a country because, after all, what is the material price of a medal? But the pride they give, their example to the youth not to do drugs, not to drink, to eat healthy, not to smoke -- these are priceless and that is what we see in our athletes.)
The former speaker also appealed to the national government to ensure that the allowances of the athletes and coaches are disbursed on time and that the funding and accommodations for them are taken care of. (PR)