DEPUTY Speaker Mikee Romero (1Pacman Partylist) yesterday called on all National Sports Associations and major stakeholders, including fellow House members, to work as one to enable the athletes 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 an Olympic gold,” Romero said as vowed to support all the measures that Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay City Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino will undertake in going after the ultimate prize.
During the awarding of incentives to athletes at Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte said two things are vital to the realization of winning an Olympic gold – a substantial increase in the national athletes’ monthly allowances and an increase in the country’s budget for the Olympics.
Elite athletes are currently receiving a P45,000 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 Speaker Peter Alan Cayetano.
“Mga P250,000 a month, okay na siguro ‘yan,” said Duterte, further drawing cheers from the athletes.
“With the President stepping in, I do believe winning an Olympic gold now is no longer impossible,” Romero said, citing the country’s massive success in the 30th SEA Games where Filipino athletes ran away with the overall championship with 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals.
“Our success in the SEA Games which Cong. Bambol masterminded by staging 529 events in 56 sports was proof that we can win big if we work as one,” said Romero.
“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,” Romero said. “And Cong. Bambol proved that.”
The 30th SEA Games also marked the first time the POC gave 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 Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, skateboarder Marge Didal and the crack boxing and taekwondo teams.