MANILA, Philippines – Despite the absence of implementing rules and regulations, Filipina Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz is expected to receive a P5-million ($106,593) cash reward and other benefits as mandated by law.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act of 2015, which he co-authored, should still be implemented despite the failure of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and other government bodies to draft the IRR.
"Diaz and her coach need not wait for the PSC to draft the implementing rules. They must be given the cash incentives immediately upon arriving home," Recto said in a statement.
Aside from the cash reward, Diaz is also set to receive free state college education and a “generous” retirement package, among others, for bringing honor to the country.
Other incentives mandated by the law include:
Due to the "cross-sectoral" nature of the incentives, Recto urged the concerned government agencies to immediately draft and release the IRR.
While the government and other officials have promised Diaz a bright future, former Olympic silver medalist Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr lamented that he has yet to receive the P2.5 million promised him when he won in 1996.
In radio interviews since Monday, Velasco recalled how lawmakers then vowed to give him monetary and other incentives but to no avail.
“Kasi 'yung iba po, kontrata yan eh, di natutupad, kaya yung iba nadismaya din magpursige (Because for others, it's a contract, it's not followed. That's why other athletes are disheartened),” Velasco said.
Recto said they would study the matter, as the current law is not retroactive and would no longer apply to Velasco’s case.
“We can look into that. Because this is not retroactive – this is prospective. But I think he will benefit from the other programs here,” Recto said, referring to discounts and other non-monetary benefits.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, for his part, acknowledged the problem, saying there are many anomalies in the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
In fact, Pacquiao, an athlete and the chairman of the Senate sports committee, is set to conduct an inquiry into the government’s failure to give incentives to winning athletes as mandated by law.
First on his list, Pacquiao said, is to determine the functions of the PSC and POC and where the budgetary problems lie.
“I heard the problem, somebody told me, but I just want to make sure totoo sinasabi. Ito ung tututukan natin ngayon, imbestigasyon (We will focus on this, we will investigate). Bilang chairman of sports (committee) obligasyon ko yan na ayusin sa time ko ngayon. Anim na taon, 3 taon siguro maayos natin yan, (As chairman of sports, it is my obligation to fix it now. Six years, maybe in 3 years we could fix this)” Pacquiao said.
“Maraming problema dyan, PSC, POC. Gusto kong klaruhin function ng POC, PSC, at paano un budget ng PSC halos kalahati napupunta sa POC. Gusto ko klaruhin saan napupunta,” he said.
(There are many problems there in the PSC and POC. I want to clarify the functions of POC and PSC and how come half of the PSC's budget goes to POC. I want to clarify where the money goes.)
US$1 = P46.90
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org