With President Rodrigo Duterte already pitching in, Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero (1Pacman Partylist) called on all national sports associations and major stakeholders — including fellow House representatives — to work as one in order to realize the country’s long-cherished dream: win an Olympic gold.
“Let us support President Duterte’s wish of quenching the country’s thirst for Olympic gold,” said Romero as he also vowed to support all the measures that
Philippine Olympic Committee President and Tagaytay City Rep. Bambol Tolentino will undertake the search for the ultimate prize.
During the awarding of incentives to the athletes at Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte made two wishes which many said are vital to the realization of winning an Olympic gold — a substantial increase in the national athletes’ monthly allowances, and an increase the country’s budget for the Olympics.
Elite athletes are currently receiving PHP 45,000 monthly allowance.
“Sana ‘yung allowance ninyo, dapat ‘yung pagkain, libre na. ‘Yung allowance ninyo, allowance na ninyo ‘yan,” said Duterte who drew cheers from the athletes and officials led by Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez and PHISGOC chairman Peter Alan Cayetano.
“Mga 250,000-pesos a month, okay na siguro ‘yan,” said Duterte, delighting the athletes in attendance.
“With President stepping in, I do believe winning an Olympic gold now is no longer impossible,” said Romero, citing the country’s massive success in the 30th SEA Games where Filipino athletes ran away with the overall championship with 149 golds, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes.
“Our success in the SEA Games — which Cong. Bambol masterminded by staging five-hundred, twenty-nine events in fifty-six sports —was proof that we can win big if we work as one.
“In the past, politicians who dabble as sports leaders were criticized for using sports as personal platforms. But in this era of sports, we are sportsmen first and politicians second. And Cong. Bambol proved that,” Romero said.
The 30th SEA Games also marked the first time that POC doled out additional cash incentives to all Filipino medalists.
Tolentino, also the cycling federation president, mustered the support of his fellow congressmen who contributed to the POC incentive/bonus program.
Romero also recognized the massive support given by the PSC to all athletes, especially to gymnast Caloy Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, skateboarder Marge Didal, and the crack boxing and taekwondo teams.
The one-time basketball godfather also made special mention the names of boxers Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial, who have good chances of earning Olympic berths.
“These are the athletes who have what it takes to give us the sporting glory we all dreaming of. Under the watchful eyes of PSC chairman Ramirez, I am convinced we can finally end our long search for an Olympic gold.”