'No coincidence' PH did best in Olympics under Duterte – Roque

Malacañang was quick to attribute the Tokyo Olympics victories of Filipino athletes to the Duterte administration, claiming it devoted a "record" amount of financial aid to sports.

"Siguro hindi (Maybe it's not a) coincidence na (that) we had the best-ever performance in the Olympics, including our first gold medal ever in history under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Monday, August 9 during his regular press briefing.

"The figures will bear me out pero talaga naman pong nagtanim at nag invest ang Pangulo sa ating mga atleta. Kauna-unahang panahon pa, record po ang suportang pinansyal na binigay natin sa mga atleta at nakita naman natin ang naging prutas ng ganyang investment," he added.

(The figures will bear me out but our President really invested in our athletes. From the start, we gave record financial support to our athletes and we can see the fruit of that investment.)

Roque did not present the figures to prove that the Duterte government's financial aid to Olympic athletes set a record or surpassed those of previous administrations.

Philippine Sports Commission, in a July 28 press release, said the government spent "around P2.7 billion" to cover the expenses of the country's Olympic campaign, including foreign exposures, training, equipment, meals, supplies, and allowances.

PSC chairperson Butch Ramirez told Rappler he would send more figures on government aid for athletes. We will update this article with this information.

But Duterte had added P100,000 each to the allowances of the Olympic athletes, on top of the $1,000 from PSC.

Meanwhile, a law signed before Duterte's presidency ensured that Olympic medalists would get millions after the games.

Challenges facing athletes

However, in 2019, Hidilyn Diaz, the country's first Olympic gold medalist, went on social media to ask for more financial support from private entities for her training leading towards the Tokyo games.

"Hirap na hirap na ako (I am having a really hard time)," said Diaz in that post.

Ramirez had responded by emphasizing that the government is supportive of Diaz, paying for her coach's monthly salary, providing P4.5 million to fund her training in China, and giving her one of the highest allowances among Filipino Olympic athletes.

In March this year, Olympian boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial (who would end up an Olympic medalist) claimed they were not receiving their allowances on time.

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow on government resources, particularly on the earnings of government corporations like the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The remittances from these firms are the source of funding for sports aid.

Because of this, Ramirez admitted that they had to cut allowances of the national team by half, according to an August 7 PSC press statement.

The PSC thanked the private sector for coming to the atheletes' rescue.

"We also have to thank our partners in the private sector. Thank you for being generous to our athletes and for adding where the government’s limitations can no longer go," said the agency.

It also acknowledged that the "biggest contributor of support" were Filipinos themselves.

"Your taxes funded our athletes along the course of their athletic journey," said PSC. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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