Senate vows more support for athletes
For Senator Sonny Angara, raising the cash bonuses of medal-winning athletes is not enough.
The former Senate committee chair on Games, Amusement and Sports who sponsored the new cash incentives act of the government has vowed to push for more reforms in sports for the benefit of the national athletes.
“Despite their achievements, we continue to overlook the significance of our athletes in nation building, providing them very little support or incentive to succeed,’’ said Angara.
“Of course, in the 16th Congress, we raised the incentives our national athletes receive. But we can definitely do more, especially in providing full institutional support and training for them,’’ he added.
Angara, who chairs the committees on ways and means and local government, pointed this out during his recent speech on the Senate resolution extending well-wishes to the 13 Filipino athletes in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
Republic Act 10699, authored by Angara and signed into law by President Aquino early this year, rewards gold-medal winners in the Olympics with P10 million while a silver and bronze are worth P5 million and P2 million, respectively.
Medalists in the world championships, Asian Games, Southeast Asian Games and even the Para Games and Paralympics also stand to earn huge increases in government cash bonuses.
“The Senate has been filing for resolutions congratulating various athletes in different international competitions. The Senate can do more than this,” Angara told his fellow senators.
“What we need is systemic reform, including grass roots development, higher budgets, and more long-term planning. We should offer more than lip service. Let’s continue the drive to enact real reform in sports,’’ he added.
Angara is confident that Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a world-class athlete himself, will steer the Senate Committee on Sports, which Pacquiao chairs, toward this direction. Angara now sits as vice chair of the committee.
Aside from commending the 12 Filipino athletes in Rio led by three-time Olympians Marestella Torres (long jump) and Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), the Senate also congratulated Treat Conrad Huey for becoming the first Filipino to qualify in the semifinal round of a grand slam tennis tournament.
The Senate also recognized the achievement of Torres in her record-breaking feat in the Kazakhstan Open where she won the gold and qualified in the Olympics as well as the accomplishment of surfer Philmar Alipayo for winning the West Sumbawa Open Pro Finals 2016 Surfing Tournament in Indonesia.