PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte handed out cash incentives to Filipino athletes who brought honor to the country. And he’s hoping it won’t be the last.
Speaking to sports officials and athletes, who won medals in the recent 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, Duterte urged them to “continue to represent the best of what the Philippines has to offer, here and abroad.”
“Make us proud again,” the president urged his audience.
Duterte made the statement before he led sports officials from the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee in handing out presidential citations and cash incentives worth P18,037,500 to the athletes, plus P7,181,250 more for the their coaches.
“I congratulate you all, especially our medalists, for the accomplishment that you have brought honor to the country. Through hard work and discipline, you have prevailed and made our nation proud,” Duterte said in his opening speech on Wednesday night at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang, Manila.
One of those in attendance was taekwondo official Rep. Monsour Del Rosario, who a few hours later, left with more than hundred athletes bound for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.
Del Rosario was designated chef de mission of Team Philippines in this tough competition among countries in Asia and Oceania.
“(I’m) praying that we all come home victorious in our fights,” said Del Rosario.
A few weeks ago, the Philippines won 24 gold, 33 silver and 64 bronze medals in the KL SEA Games–good for only sixth place, with the overall championship going to host Malaysia, which was congratulated by Duterte—not for winning the most number of medals, but for successfully hosting the event.
The president also expressed hopes that “we will continue to foster this spirit of goodwill and sportsmanship” even as the Philippines gets ready to host the 30th edition of the SEA Games in 2019.
“I encourage our athletes to focus on improving and to strive to do better in the next SEA Games. Rest assured that the government and the Filipino people will support (you) every step of the way,” said Duterte, whose speech lasted only a few minutes.
Then he began handing out incentives to the medalists present, including gold medal winners Nikko Huelgas of triathlon, Mary Joy Tabal (marathon), Agatha Wong (wushu), Eumir Felix Marcial (boxing), Kiyomi Watanabe (judo), Sam Morrison (taekwondo), Cheska Centeno and Carlo Biado (billiards) and Colin John Syquia (equestrian).
Among those in attendance were POC president Peping Cojuangco, Foreign Affairs secretary Allan Peter Cayetano, who is the chairman of the Manila Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee and PSC chairman William Ramirez.
“The government, through President Duterte, is recognizing them (athletes) and inspiring them for getting honors for the country in international events such as these. All of this is for the country. Para sa bayan,” said Ramirez in welcoming the President.
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