AROUND 121 Philippine team medalists in the recently concluded 29th Association of Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were granted cash incentives for bringing pride and honor to the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte led the awarding rites held at Malacañang Palace's Rizal Hall on Wednesday evening.
In his keynote speech, Duterte said the government and the Filipino people would support Philippine athletes "in every step of the way."
"I express my heartfelt gratitude to the athletes who represented us in the recently concluded 29th Southeast Asian Games," Duterte said.
"I congratulate you, especially the medalists, for the accomplishments you brought forth for the country, for the hard work, and discipline," he added.
Duterte handed out the cash incentives from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to athletes who bagged 24 gold, 33 silver, and 64 bronze medals during the SEA Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
A total of P18,037,500 was given to the medal-winning athletes.
Under National Athletes and Coach Benefits Act or Republic Act 10699, gold medalist will receive P300,000, silver medalist will get P150,000, and bronze medalist will take home P60,000.
On top of PSC's cash grant, Presidential Adviser for Sports Dennis Uy provided additional cash incentives worth P50,000 for the gold medalists, P30,000 for the silver medalists, and P10,000 for the bronze medalists.
Uy took the initiative to give additional cash grants through the Siklab Atleta Pilipinas Sports Foundation "to support the Filipino athletes in their hard work and dedication to represent the country in international competitions."
The President also granted presidential citations to all the medalists for their performance in the SEA Games.
During the event, athletes' coaches also received cash incentives amounting to a total of P7,181,250.
Under the law, coaches are entitled to get cash incentives equivalent to half of the amount the winning athletes will receive.
The Philippine team is ranked sixth place in this year's multi-sports event, with the gold medal haul dipping to its lowest this year.
The Philippines made history by winning its first SEA Games overall championship title when it hosted the event in 2005.
Its ranked, however, dropped to sixth place finish in 2007, fifth in 2009, sixth in 2011, seventh in 2013, and sixth in 2015.
Duterte called on the PSC to recruit other potential athletes nationwide that will cater Filipinos' competitiveness "here and abroad."
"I enjoined the PSC to widen scope and recruit nationwide," he said. "Look for members of indigenous tribes and out-of-school youths. Let us give them a chance to hone their talents and live up to their fullest potentials." (SunStar Philippines)