By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has congratulated the Filipino medalists in the recent 18th Asian Games for bringing pride, honor and joy to the country, and promised to continue to support their development.
The President expressed his admiration and support for the athletes as he awarded presidential citations and extra incentives to the gold, silver and bronze medal winners in Malacañang.
Duterte gave an additional P1 million to each of the gold medalists, P500,000 to silver medalists, and P200,000 for bronze medalists during the Palace ceremony. He also authorized the Philippine Sports Commission to provide extra incentives to the medalists.
“I congratulate our athletes and their coaches for their efforts in bringing honor and recognition to the Philippines in the field of sports. We Filipinos have always been known for our competitive spirit, and this year, we did not fall short of showing our trait to our neighbors,” he said.
“Our journey in the Asian Games has truly fostered unity among our players who are pushing towards a specific goal. More than just a competitor’s passion for the game, what draws them together is the collective aspiration to represent the best of our resilience, competence and determination as a nation,” he added.
Duterte also assured the athletes of his “continued support in developing yourselves as you pursue your respective discipline.
He also praised the Philippine Sports Commission for supporting the athletes and for enabling them to perform well during the games.
“I have already directed the PSC to provide additional incentives, to be sourced from its funds, to the winning individuals of the 18th Asian Games,” he added.
Duterte said he hopes the incentives would motivate the athletes to work harder, and inspire the youth to be part of an active and healthy citizenry.
“I have always believed that sports play a crucial role in fostering patriotism among us,” he said.
“The entire country looks forward to your next win as you secure your place in your respective fields and wave our flag, high and proud, for the world to see,” he added.
Among those given presidential citation for sports achievement were Asian Games gold medalists Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, Margielyn Didal of skateboarding, and Yuka Saso of golf, silver medalist Rogen Ladon of boxing, and bronze medalist Agatha Wong of Wushu.
When Didal received the incentive from Duterte, she had a light moment with the President when she convinced him to do the dab, a dance move, during the event. Duterte gamely threw his arms to one side for posterity with the gold medalist, drawing laughter and applause from other Palace guests.
Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go, in a later interview with reporters, said the gold medal winners would get as much as P8 million in incentives.
He said they will receive P2 million from the PSC, P2 million from the Philippine Olympic Committee, P 1million from Siklab Foundation, and P1 million from the Philippine embassy in Indonesia.
He said the President has also given P1 million to the gold medalists, and authorized the PSC to add another million.
Go said the silver and bronze medalists would also be given additional bonuses from the President and the PSC.
The Philippines stood at 19th place out of 45 countries, finishing with four gold, two silver, and 15 bronze medals. It was considered an improvement from the 22nd place finish in the 2014 Incheon Games.