Filipino SEA Games medalists honored by Duterte at Malacañang; incentives handed
Filipino medalists were rewarded abundantly for their exploits in the recent 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday night with no less than President Rodrigo Duterte showing the love to the country’s sports heroes.
“There’s no other time that I feel so proud of my country because you are here. You did a good job and I’m very happy with the results,’’ Duterte told the athletes and coaches present during the courtesy call at Malacanang Palace.
The government through the Philippine Sports Commission handed out almost P52 million in monetary incentives as provided for by the law, including P35 million for the 52 golds, 70 silvers and 104 bronzes collected by Filipino athletes in the SEA Games.
Besides the 258 medalists, a total of 62 coaches likewise received their cash bonuses with the medalists coming from 37 of the 38 sports where Team Philippines participated.
“It’s not really about winning, but going there just to give the country an image. Although I’m very happy that we collected a lot of medals, we should be proud of our athletes regardless if they won a medal or not,’’ said Duterte.
Billiards icon Efren “Bata’’ Reyes drew the loudest cheers from his fellow athletes and coaches when he received the Order of Lapu-Lapu from Duterte.
Olympian rower Cris Nievarez, US Open 9-ball champion Carlo Biado, weightlifter Vanessa Sarno and swimmer Chloe Isleta were among the 178 medalists who were awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu, a national order of merit conferred by Duterte to the athletes in recognition of their exemplary service to the country.
It can be recalled that a similar distinction was given to Filipino medalists in the 2019 SEA Games that the nation hosted.
The PSC allocated the cash bonuses under Republic Act 10699, otherwise known as the National Athletes and Coaches Incentives and Benefits Act, which rewards an athlete P300,000 for every individual gold medal won while a silver and bronze are worth P150,000 and P60,000 each.
Apart from these financial rewards from the government and the POC, it is no secret that Duterte, by tradition, gives out a separate cash bonus for medal-winning athletes from the Office of the President, which Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong’’ Go announced on Monday.
Joining Duterte on stage during the awarding were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senator Go (Senate committee chairman on sports), Rep. Faustino Michael Carlos Dy III (House committee chairman for youth and sports development), Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino.
According to Ramirez, the PSC recognized the consistent and strong support of Duterte as the key to the success of Team Philippines not only in the SEA Games but in the Olympics as well as evidenced by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo last year.
Also in attendance were PSC Commissioners Arnold Agustin, Celia Kiram, Charles Maxey and Ramon Fernandez who served as Team Philippines chef de mission in the Vietnam meet as well as Team Philippines deputy chefs de mission Pearl Managuelod and Carl Sambrano.
Fernandez presented the national team jacket to Duterte, drawing a round of applause from the crowd.
The Philippines wound up fourth in Hanoi, but it was by far the country’s finest finish when it’s not hosting the Games or since placing second in the 1983 SEA Games in Singapore.
Coaches of podium finishers got 50 percent of the equivalent of the monetary incentives that their athletes received.
For team cash incentives, a team of four or less received the equivalent of the corresponding individual medal they had won while each member of a team of five members or more were entitled to 25 percent of the individual medal’s worth.
Funding these cash bonuses from the government is taken from the net cash income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to be remitted to the National Sports Development Fund of the PSC.
This is over and above the regular income shares that are remitted to the PSC by Pagcor.