HOW would Malacañang deal with Hidilyn Diaz, the Air Force personnel who has given the country its first ever Olympic gold medal? In 2019, then presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo showed a piece of cartolina containing a diagram of the personalities said to be conspiring to oust President Duterte. Among the names were those of Diaz and former volleyball star Gretchen Ho, who had successfully carved a name for herself as an ABS-CBN broadcaster.
Diaz, who was already in training as a national athlete, had earlier complained of the lack of financial support, a claim that the Philippine Sports Commission denied. So her inclusion in the so-called matrix must have been because of that. And Ho was with ABS-CBN, a network that Duterte partisans in the House of Representatives voted to not grant a franchise.
That was apparently part of a tactic to scare the Duterte admin’s critics, one that was carried over to recent times when community pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non was red-tagged. As a result of Diaz’s inclusion in the matrix, the administration’s troll army bashed her on social media. This affected her training, something that she noted in a statement after the medal rites. The bashing was among the challenges she had to overcome on the way to her record-setting win.
Diaz did not mention Duterte but was rather profuse with her thanks to a God that was once the subject of the President’s criticism. But to be fair, Malacañang did congratulate Diaz in a statement and is expected to fete her considering that P10 million of the cash incentives she will get comes from the government. Besides, Duterte is her commander-in-chief.
I am sad that Cebuana Margielyn Didal failed to come up with a podium finish, but I hope she will earn the government support she and her sports discipline, skateboarding deserve. This should not be the end of the road for Didal, like Diaz’s silver medal finish in the previous Olympics did not end her dream of getting a weightlifting gold medal.
By the way, Diaz’s feat put it above the State of the Nation Address or Sona in terms of importance and rightly so. It was historic considering that after decades since we first participated in the Olympics, we finally got a gold medal. Diaz’s name will forever be etched when we talk about this event. The President’s Sona will be forgotten. Besides, what particular achievement can the President boast in his years as President that is bigger than Diaz’s gold medal?
interestingly, Diaz got a gold medal in an event in which a Chinese athlete was competing and who was even considered as the favorite to win. It is not often that we win at China’s expense. The one other time that it happened was when we won a case on the West Philippine Sea in an international tribunal. That was when Benigno Aquino III was President. Unfortunately, the present dispensation has never been proud of that feat.
So to Hidilyn Diaz, congratulations!