Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Wednesday, November 27, that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to give additional incentives to Filipino athletes who will bag medals in the coming 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in addition to the incentives provided by law.
“Maliban doon sa mandated by law, willing po ang Pangulo na bigyan sila ng award to encourage them,” Go told reporters in an interview at the Senate, recalling his conversation with the President the previous night.
“I suggested to him na bigyan ng awards and incentives ang athletes natin nang maengganyo namang lumaban despite the controversies. I-boost natin ang kanilang morale para manalo tayo,” Go explained.
The Senator said the President will make good on his plan because he has done it recently. “Noong nakaraan nga, ‘yung limang atleta, including Hidilyn Diaz at ‘yung gold medalist sa gymnastics (Carlos Yulo), binigyan niya ng separate incentives.”
In a meet-and-greet with the President in Malacañang on October 16, recent gold medalists Yulo, Ernest Obiena (pole vault), and Nesthy Petecio (boxing) received P1 million each, while silver medalist Eumir Marcial (boxing) and bronze medalist Diaz (weightlifting) received P500,000 each.
The rewards were given in addition to what the five athletes received under Republic Act No. 10699, or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.
Go clarified, however, that the President has not mentioned the amount for the SEA Games medalists. “Wala pa pong binibigay na amount ang Pangulo,” he said.
The Senator added that the President is considering giving the Order of Lapu-Lapu awards to winning athletes. “I cannot speak on behalf of the President, pero nabanggit niya sa akin na bibigyan niya ng Lapu-Lapu award ang mga mananalo,” Go said.
The President created the Order of Lapu-Lapu in 2017 to be conferred on individuals who have significant contributions to the administration’s advocacies.
Go also shared his hopes for the Philippine Team to have an excellent performance. “Sixth place tayo noong nakaraang Southeast Asian Games. Sana po ay maging top three naman tayo, with hometown crowd. Nandidito lahat ng Pilipino, willing to cheer, willing to help, willing to volunteer. Andami pong volunteers natin.”
The national government has already spent more than a billion pesos for the trainings of athletes, including sending them abroad and bringing in foreign coaches to ensure international competitiveness of the national sports pool.
Athletes from participating countries have arrived in the Philippines, and the 30th SEA Games will formally open on November 30 and end on December 11.