Asian Games medalists honored, get over P41 million in cash rewards from gov’t

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has  assured Filipino athletes of his administration’s continued support for initiatives and programs aimed at developing the sports industry.

Marcos made the commitment, as he led the grand welcome and awarding ceremony for 33 Filipino athletes who clinched medals in the 19th Asian Games led by gold winners Ernest J Obiena of athletics, Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez of jiu-jitsu, and the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team.

Also honored were silver medalists Eumir Marcial of boxing and Arnel Mandal of wushu and bronze medalists Patrick King Perez of taekwondo; Jones Inso, Gideon Padua and Clemente Tabugara Jr. of wushu; Alex Eala and Francis Alcantara of tennis; Patrick Coo of cycling; Elreen Ando of weightlifting; Kaila Napolis of jiu-jitsu; Sakura Alforte of karate; and the men’s sepak takraw team.

The gold medalists received P2 million each while the silver medalists P1 million each and the bronze medalists P800,000 each from the government.

In sum, the medalists received incentives totaling P19.1 million from the PSC through PAGCOR and additional incentives amounting to P22.8 million from the Office of the President.

Filipino athletes who captured medals in the Asian Games are entitled to receive cash incentives from the government under Republic Act No. 10699, also known as the “National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.’’

In a speech delivered at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in the City of Manila, Marcos lauded the Philippine team’s “excellent” performance in the recently-concluded Asian Games, saying they have boosted the Filipinos’ morale.

Marcos acknowledged that the Filipino athletes need the government’s support and asisstance for them to perform well in sports competitions.

“So, we value the great influence that sports has in developing our society. That is why this administration continues to support initiatives and programs to promote sports development,” he said.

“Marami na tayong nagawa ngunit maasahan ninyo, dadagdagan pa natin ang ating suporta para sa ating mga atleta. At sa susunod, makakaramdam naman tayo ng mas maganda pang resulta sa ating mga international competition (We have already done a lot but you can expect, we will increase our support for our athletes. And next time, we will feel even better results in our international competitions),” Marcos added.

Marcos noted that the Philippine Sports Competition (PSC) is implementing a five-year Sports Development Plan 2023-2028 to address the long-standing concerns of Filipino athletes by encouraging participation in all levels of government and the private sector.

He also directed the PSC to work with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and other concerned agencies to strengthen the medical scientific athlete services unit to ensure the immediate recovery of injured athletes.

Marcos said his administration is also committed to providing full support to future athletes, expressing optimism that the National Academy of Sports (NAS) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority will fast-track and operationalize the sports academy located at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

He said the government established the NAS to promote the development of the athletic skills and talents of students through a secondary education program.

Marcos added that the government is providing assistance to state universities and colleges to improve and upgrade the sports facilities.

“Sa ating mga atleta, ganito ang hamon ko sa inyo (To our athletes, this is my challenge to you): Keep aspiring, keep believing, keep working. Spare no effort to unlock your full potential and be the best version of yourselves. Know fully well that the government and the entire nation is with you in every single step of the way,” he said.

“It is my hope that the individual victories that we honor now will inspire our collective vision and pursuits for the future. With our continued unity and continuing collaboration with all parts of society, we will not only secure more victories for our athletes but we will also build a stronger and better, more prosperous Filipinos that will house the great ambitions of younger generations.”

During the event, Marcos led the awarding of the Presidential Citation to the 33 Asian Games medalists, in recognition of their demonstrated excellence and achievements in their respective sports.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Richard Bachmann expressed his gratitude to President Marcos Jr. for his unwavering support to Filipino athletes and for providing them a world-class training venue in preparation for local and international competitions.

“We’re very happy,” Bachman said when asked about his reaction to President Marcos’ presence during the welcome and awarding ceremony for the medalists of the 19th Asian Games 2023 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila last Wednesday.

“We are very thankful also to the President kasi siya ang nag organize and took the lead in this for our athletes. And this gesture just shows you that he supports the national athletes,” Bachman added.

President Marcos graced the welcome and awarding ceremony for Filipino athletes on Wednesday where he vowed to intensify government support for the country’s sports development by carrying out a detailed plan and putting up modern training facilities.

The President said that the administration values the great influence of sports in developing the society.

Bachman said that there are a lot of initiatives that the government will undertake under the administration of President Marcos, which include fixing all the facilities while all athletes are still having their trainings at the Rizal Memorial.

“Actually, he understands where I am coming from. We need to fix the facilities for all athletes,” he said. (Jeanne Michael G. Penaranda)