Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has initiated a “pass the hat” drive among members of the House of Representatives to raise P5 million to P10 million in cash incentives for champion weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and other medalists in the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
This was revealed by Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN Representative Mikee Romero when he guested at the virtual Ugnayan sa Batasan news forum.
“From the House, Speaker Velasco has initiated a move. He started with P200,000 and passing the hat to every congressman and congresswoman to contribute for an additional incentive for Hidilyn,” Romero said.
“The incentive will go as far as P5 million to P10 million.”
“I think the incentive will go as far as P5 million to P10 million. As we speak, the ‘pass the hat’ has started and we already have P4 million from various congressmen,” the veteran legislator added.
Deputy Speaker and AAMBIS-OWA Representative Sharon Garin clarified that “due to popular demand and upon the advice of the House leadership, the prize money will be pooled and shall be gifted to all Filipino athletes that will bring home Olympic medals for the country, and not just for Hidilyn in case.”
Romero, a long-time sports patron, will also grant Diaz an additional cash incentive worth P3 million, noting that her win ended the country’s 97 years of aspiration for the elusive Olympic gold medal.
The seasoned lawmaker even showed news reporters the P3 million check he would give Diaz once she comes back to the Philippines.
Diaz made history and brought pride and glory to the Philippines after winning the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is the country’s first-ever gold medal win after 97 years.
In the same media forum, Deputy Speaker and Manila 6th District Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr. said Diaz, whom he considers the country’s sports hero, should be accorded all the honors that are due her.
“If we will be needing a sports ambassador, she can represent our country in any sports event.”
“If we will be needing a sports ambassador, she can represent our country in any sports event and be able to raise the flag of Philippine sports,” Abante said.
Several House members have filed resolutions commending Diaz for her historic win.
Romero also mentioned that he will push for the creation of the Department of Sports in an effort to address the challenges of training funds for Filipino athletes.
“With the Department of Sports, it will have the mandate to put as many infrastructure as possible. Our athletes need to train outside of the Philippines because we don’t have enough infrastructure and facilities,” he said.
Romero said he will speak with Speaker Velasco and his colleagues in the House to ask for support on the measure’s approval.
Abante expressed his agreement on the measure, citing that it is high time to prioritize sports in the Philippines.
“Once we have a Department of Sports, we can then compete internationally, as far as even promoting international sports in the Philippines,” the veteran legislator pointed out.