• CHERYL G. CRUZ
Silaynon FIDE Master Sander Severino was among the para-athletes honored during an awarding ceremony in Malacañang Jan. 24, with no less than President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. handing over cash incentives to medalists in the 4th Asian Para Games, held in China in October 2023.
Severino won a gold medal in the men’s team rapid PI event, a silver in the men’s team standard PI, and a bronze in the men’s individual standard.
In congratulating the para-athletes, Marcos said it is only fitting that, apart from the thanks of a grateful nation, the government has to present them with incentives.
“So, as we hand these to you, remember that these are not merely monetary tokens. They are symbols of the love of your countrymen and their admiration for all the sacrifices that you have made for your country and for your countrymen,” Marcos said.
Under Republic Act 10699, or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act, all national athletes who won in international sports competitions and events are entitled to monetary benefits.
The athletes who won in the 4th Asian Para Games in individual events received P1 million for gold medal finish, P500,000 for silver, and P200,000 for bronze, the Presidential Communications Office said.
Those who competed with less than five participants per team shall receive the same cash incentive as the individual medal winners, to be divided equally among the members present during the competition, the PCO said, adding their coaches shall receive half of the athlete’s cash incentive.
The Philippine Sports Commission provided P19.5 million, while Marcos gave athletes’ monetary awards totaling P13.45 million, in addition to the incentives provided under RA 10699.
Over 3,020 athletes competed in the 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China. The Philippines finished 9th overall out of the 44 participating countries, after the para-athletes took home 19 medals during the competition, which include 10 gold medals, four silvers, and five bronzes medals.
Meanwhile, Marcos said his administration is boosting its support for Filipino athletes, their coaches, and their families, in recognition of the important role of sports in the nation’s development and unity.
Part of the effort is building athletic infrastructure, from gyms, athletic ovals, to even safe sidewalks for ordinary citizens.
The overall objective is to promote sports down to the grassroots, not to merely create a talent farm for national teams but to use sports for nation-building, Marcos said. “A good sports program goes beyond trophy collecting. It should harness our collective strengths to realize the common good. So we must train, we must fund, and nurture our national sporting elite that is able to compete with the world’s best so they can bring us pride and glory and inspiration.” | CGC