PROUD FILIPINO. Pencak silat’s bet Mary Francine Padios (2nd from left) poses with fellow medalists after winning the country’s first gold in the ongoing 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam on Wednesday (May 11, 2022). Senator Sonny Angara said the government should continue to recognize the Filipino athletes’ achievements and dedication to bring home honor for the country. (Photo courtesy to Philsilat Sports Association Facebook Page)

MANILA – Senator Sonny Angara on Thursday said the country should continue to recognize the achievements of athletes for their dedication to bring home glory and honor amid many challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

This, as Angara congratulated Mary Francine Padios of pencak silat for winning the country’s first gold medal in the ongoing 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam on Wednesday.

“Sports continue to provide us with, not only entertainment, but also a respite from the problems and challenges we face every day, including the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two years and more recently, the fatigue and stress of the campaign for the national elections. This is why we must continue to recognize the achievements of our athletes, who through hard work and the dedication to their craft, give us inspiration and something to cheer about,” Angara said in a statement.

Angara said he expects “to see more victories” from the Team Philippines, hoping to surpass the 149 gold medals it won in 2019 when the country hosted the biennial meet.

After the country won the overall title in 2019 SEA Games, Angara filed Senate Bill 1225 seeking to expand the coverage of incentives granted to national athletes and coaches by amending Republic Act 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.

Under Angara’s proposal, SEA Games gold medalists should receive PHP400,000 as an incentive; PHP200,000 for silver medalists; and PHP100,000 for bronze medalists.

The bill also seeks to increase incentives for medalists in Asian Beach Games and other Asian-level competitions held at least every two years with at least 25 countries participating and qualifying competitions for world-level and Asian-level games.

Angara proposed to increase gold medalists’ bonus to PHP600,000 from the present PHP500,000; silver medalists from PHP250,000 to PHP350,000; and bronze medalists from PHP100,000 to PHP150,000.

Angara said gold medalists in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam will each get PHP300,000, while the silver medalists will receive PHP150,000; and the bronze medalists will pocket PHP60,000.

He noted that for the team events with five or more participants, each team member is entitled to receive 25 percent of the cash incentives for individual medal winners.

"In the case of competitions with less than five participants per team, they will receive the same cash incentives as individual medal winners and will divide this equally among themselves," he said.

RA 10699 also grants cash incentives to the coaches of the winning athletes or teams equivalent to 50 percent of the cash reward for gold, silver and bronze medalists.

According to Angara’s office, the lawmaker will most “likely” refile his Senate bill seeking higher incentives for athletes in the forthcoming 19th Congress.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Sports, also hailed the Filipino athletes who secured medals in the 31st SEA Games.

"I wish the rest of the Team Philippines a very good luck as we defend our overall championship. The Filipino people are all behind you!" Go said.

“It is with great pride and honor to express his sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the athletes for showing undying devotion to the country through sports, and for upholding the true spirit of patriotism,” he added.

Malacañang also congratulated Padios and praised all the Filipino athletes in Vietnam who are looking forward to defending the country's overall title. (PNA)