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2020 Tokyo Olympics

Onyok Velasco hopes Tokyo Olympians get incentives promised to them

Keep your word.

That was the simple reminder of Onyok Velasco in light of various entities’ pledges to give incentives to the Filipino athletes that won four medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, easily the country’s best showing in the Summer Games.

“‘Yung mga pangako, sana tuparin nila,” the 1996 Olympic silver medalist told Radyo5’s Power and Play with Noli Eala, Saturday.

Weightlifting champ Hidilyn Diaz, boxing silver winners Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial have all become millionaires in an instant due to their impressive performances in the 32nd Olympiad.

Besides the monetary rewards, the athletes will also receive other prizes such as condominium unit; houses and lots; and even a lifetime of flight miles from major airline companies.

Velasco only hopes that they will be able to enjoy all those benefits and perks. After all, the Negros Occidental native knows exactly how it feels to be promised so much, only to feel dismayed at the end.

It has been well-documented that the accomplished boxer received many pledges after bagging the silver from the Atlanta Games, including the P 2.5 million promised to him by the House of Representatives.

Then there’s also a scholarship grant for his children. Unfortunately, to this day, Velasco hasn’t received any of that, including promises from various entities — one of which was a lifetime pension of P 10,000 that only lasted for a year.

“‘Yung pinangako sa’kin ng Congress noon, na 2.5, ‘yun ang hindi ko nakuha. Tapos ‘yung sa Philippine Navy na scholar ang dalawang anak ko, ‘yun di ko rin nakuha,” said the former Asian Games gold medalist.

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Velasco said that he actually sought the help of Sen. Bong Go, also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, regarding the issue, only to be disappointed with what the senator found out.

“Nagpatulong na rin po ako kay Senador Bong Go po, na hinalungkat niya na po ang lahat-lahat ng pinangako sakin,” he lamented.

Ang kinalabasan daw po, wala daw po sa batas ‘yung pinangako.”

It wasn’t until 2001 when Republic Act 9064 or Sports Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001 was signed into law by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which provided policies on cash incentives for athletes winning Olympic medals.

RA 10699 of 2015 then expanded the coverage of bonuses for medalists, with an Olympic gold worth P 10 million, a silver P 5 million, and P 2 million for bronze — the prizes Diaz and her fellow winners have received.

Still, there is Velasco, now 47 years old, waiting and hoping to be proven that palabra de honor is still alive within Filipinos.

Recently, though, good news came in his way. Malacañang is giving him incentives worth P 500,000, according to Sen. Go last Wednesday. And the boxer-turned-comedian couldn’t be any happier.

“Binigyan pa rin tayo ng importansya ni Sen Bong Go, ni Pres [Rodrigo] Duterte. Parang kinilala pa rin nila ‘yung pagka-silver ko kahit na 25 years na. Natuwa rin sila siguro sa silver ko. Kaya masayang-masaya po ako,” he said.

But then again, Velasco hopes that anyone who promises anything to successful athletes would keep their word.

“Para ‘yung mga future athletes natin, magpursigi din na makita nila kapag nanalo ka pala, marami ka palang incentives na makukuha,” he said.

“Alam mo ‘yung galing sa baba, magpupursigi sila kasi nga nakikita nila na maganda ‘yung [makukuha] pala ng mga atleta.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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