It seems there’s a growing sentiment that just because at one point in the past two years Hidilyn Diaz and Eumir Marcial cried out for support, the current administration gave zero support to athletes.
In previous columns and in my social media pages, I’ve shared my less than positive outlook of this administration. But having covered sports under four presidents, you have to give credit where credit is due, this admin is where our current athletes enjoyed the most support. Of course, that does not mean I invalidate what Hidilyn Diaz went through when she appealed for support.
Maybe at that point she did feel the support she got was lacking. As for Marcial, his case was unique. He turned pro against the advise of Abap and was already under Manny Pacquiao’s tutelage when he made that appeal.
Now, as to why I think the present admin gave the most support? You have to credit the relationship the PSC have with Duterte. Led by Butch Ramirez and Charles Maxey, who were part of the advance party during Digong’s campaign, not only do they have the president’s ear, they also know what’s needed.
From P33,000 to when the present board started, the allowance for elite athletes was increased to P40,000, then to P45,000. Class B athletes, from P20,000 in 2016, now enjoy a monthly stiped of P40,000.
One other thing that I’ve raised repeatedly. In previous PSC admins, whenever an NSA was involved in infighting, the PSC would take a handsoff approach and wait whichever faction won before it would dole out support. Under Ramirez, it would brush off any infighting and offer support directly to the athlete. Diaz enjoyed that when the Samahang Weightlifting Association came into the picture and muscled out the Philippine Weightlifting Federation.
Politics too play a role. Remember, under the Aquino administration, the Philippine Olympic Committee was headed by his uncle, Peping Cojuangco, who many credit for the appointment of PSC chairman Richie Garcia. But late in his term, the two had a falling out and Peping even joined calls to oust Pinoy. No such strain in the relationship between this PSC and Malacanang.
Like I said in a previous column, let’s enjoy the rest of the Olympics without political color, be united as a country for once. That’s what sports is for. Next year’s election will be pretty divisive, let’s enjoy a few days of being one. That goes for both pro and anti alike. I mean, 20 years from now, nobody would remember who the president was that time we won our first gold medal.
Without going online, do you know who the president was in 1964 or in 1996?