Duterte confers Order of Lapulapu to SEA Games athletes
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino athletes who competed at the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were conferred a special recognition by President Rodrigo Duterte in appreciation of the Philippine national team's overall victory at the regional event.
In a ceremony on Thursday, December 18, in Malacañang, Duterte gave each of the athletes a medal representing the rank of Kamagi under the Order of Lapulapu, a recognition awarded to officials, government personnel, and private citizens "in recognition of invaluable or extraordinary service in relation to a campaign or advocacy of the President."
It was created through Duterte's Executive Order No. 17.
Filipino athletes delivered the country's first overall SEA Games championship in 14 years, winning an all-time high of 149 gold medals.
Duterte, in his speech, spoke of his great happiness at the achievement, saying he felt like cheering while watching some of the games.
"The blood, sweat, and tears that you have shed to earn this prestigious recognition is truly inspiring. I am really very happy to no end. Gusto kong sumigaw palagi sa bahay, dito pati sa Davao. Nagtataka 'yung – bakit ito sumisigaw, siguro naloko na sa trabaho niya diyan sa Malacañang," he said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.
(I wanted to shout all the time in my house, both here and in Davao. People would wonder – why is this guy shouting, maybe his job in Malacañang is driving him nuts.)
Handing out the medals beside the President was House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who played a big role in the SEA Games as chairman of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) Foundation.
Cayetano and the rest of PHISGOC are the subject of an Ombudsman probe into anomalies and possible corruption in organizing the SEA Games.
Over 500 Filipino athletes were gathered in Malacañang's Rizal Hall, all dressed in navy blue and red uniforms.
Cash rewards for medalists
In the same ceremony, athletes who took home medals from the games were also handed checks – the financial rewards Filipino medalists are entitled to according to law.
Gold medalists got P300,000, silver medalists got P150,000, while bronze medalists got P60,000. The incentives for the athletes cost a total of P79 million, which was provided by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Other officials present at the ceremony were Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and presidents and secretaries of various national sports associations. – Rappler.com