MANILA – The House of Representatives will award a Congressional Medal of Excellence to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz for giving the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal.
In a statement on Thursday, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said he led the filing of House Resolution 2041 to commend the 30-year-old Diaz while the award, to be created in a separate resolution, shall be a first.
Velasco said the Zamboanga City native deserved “gratitude and recognition from every single Filipino” after clinching the very first top podium finish for the Philippines in the quadrennial event, currently ongoing in Tokyo.
He said Diaz serves as an inspiration to Filipinos, especially young women and athletes.
“Hidilyn Diaz’s fighting heart and indomitable spirit has ignited hope and dreams in our country reeling from the current pandemic and economic downturn by bringing honor and pride to all Filipinos, whether in the country or abroad,” he said in the resolution.
The resolution was co-authored by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano.
The House leaders also filed House Resolution 1981 seeking to institutionalize the Congressional Medal of Excellence for athletes who win gold medal at the Olympic Games.
They said winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games, which they consider as the "world’s only truly global, multi-sport celebratory athletics competition", signifies the singular highest level of achievement of an athlete.
“There is a need for the House of Representatives to institutionalize the Congressional Medal of Excellence to particularly give honor and commendation to these exceptional modern-day national heroes in sports who win the gold medal in the Olympic Games,” the resolution said.
The award will immortalize the athletes' achievements and give them a legacy to leave behind by "providing future generations with inspirational lessons that they can take to heart".
The current congressional medals being handed out include the Congressional Medal of Distinction for Filipino achievers in sports, business, medicine, science, and arts and culture; and the Congressional Medal of Achievement for political, economic, and cultural leaders, who have distinguished themselves through their lives, works, and visions.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian called on the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to ensure that all Filipino podium finishers will receive their cash incentives as provided for by Republic Act (RA) No. 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.
“The accolade for the record-breaking medal of Diaz, the first gold for the Philippines in a century, is because of her hard work and dedication. Our athletes have made our country proud and incentives provided to them by law is a token of our gratitude for the honor they bring us, and the PSC should ensure that the incentives for our winning athletes are given in a timely manner,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
Under RA 10699, gold, silver, and bronze individual medalists in the Olympic Games are entitled to receive PHP10 million, PHP5 million, and PHP2 million, respectively.
For winners in team events, teams with less than five members are entitled to the cash prize equivalent to individual medal winners, which would be divided equally.
Members of teams composed of more than five will receive 25 percent of the cash incentives for individual winners.
“Our winning athletes deserve every single peso that is due them. Some of them have even spent their own money just to be able to train for this competition,” Gatchalian said.
He also noted that coaches of winning athletes in the Olympic Games shall also be entitled to cash incentives if they have personally trained the athletes or teams at least six months prior to the international competition.
The coaches of the winning athletes and teams are entitled to 50 percent of the cash incentives for gold, silver, and bronze medalists.
If there is more than one coach, the incentives shall be divided among themselves.
“Let us all support not only our athletes but their coaches as well, who pushed and persevered and won in the Games with their protégé," Gatchalian said. (PNA)