THE 19 Filipino athletes competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was set to formally open on Friday evening, July 23, 2021 received a morale booster after President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved an additional P100,000 allowance for each one of them.
All six Filipino Paralympians are also set to receive the same extra pocket money.
The allowance from the President was on top of the $1,000 allowance that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has given them.
Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Sports, confirmed this via Viber message to this writer, saying that he recommended it.
The President said it serves as a token to celebrate the athletes' achievement of qualifying for the Olympics and Paralympics.
This kind gesture of the country's top executive, according to PSC Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez, shows the President's and his government's support to the athletes. The PSC has spent P2 billion for foreign exposures, allowances, equipment, venues, and supplies of the national team since 2016.
“We can see the sincere care of the President for our athletes, grassroots to elite ito. He is the only president who never missed any Palarong Pambansa, consistently recognized the achievements of our athletes by always inviting them to the Palace, and sacrificed standing for three straight hours to award the incentives of our elite athletes,” Sir Butch said.
President Duterte and his administration's genuine concern for the athletes are among the legacies that will be most remembered by Filipinos. No other administration has ever shown as much care for the national athletes, who were not even invited to Malacañang by past administrations.
This will be the second Olympics that the country is participating in under the Duterte administration. The first one was when Hidilyn Diaz won a weightlifting silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
I remember Hidilyn arriving in Davao City, as arranged by PSC, to pay a courtesy visit to the President who proudly received her at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan. Duterte gave her an additional P2 million cash bonus on top of the P5 million incentive from the National Government based on Republic Act (RA) 10699 or the "National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act."
An Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalist will receive from the Philippine government cash incentives of P10 million, P5 million, and P2 million, respectively, under RA 10699.
This time, expect President Duterte to give extra incentives anew for Filipino Olympic medalists. There's no doubt about that!