President Rodrigo Duterte declared a raise in the allowance of the Philippine Team competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on-the spot during the send off ceremony at Malacañang on Monday.
In his speech, Duterte promised to increase each athletes’ allowance from $1,000. to $3,000 (P140,158.50).
Duterte, who was sitting beside Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, joked that sports officials going to Rio should only get $500 each.
But he later announced that the allowance of sports officials will also increase from $3,000 to $5,000 each (P233,597.50).
“I will increase your allowances,” the President said, adding that he doesn’t want to be seen as a “cheapskate.”
Duterte also promised more help for the country’s athletes by collecting unpaid taxes from “oligarchs who continue to wallow in the filth of wealth.”
“I assure you during my time, I will get the money from the pockets of those who are not paying [taxes]and give it to you to train well,” the President said.
“Be comfortable in the thought that in the coming days, you will have more support because I will collect taxes,” he added.
The President claimed that the Philippines loses an estimated P300 million a day in uncollected taxes in all ports across the country.
“If I can just collect it, one month, two months, ibigay ko sa inyo. Tapos na ang problema ko at least ‘yung ating athletes, or for the poor,” he said.
The President said he hopes that the Philippines would one day catch up with other countries in sports excellence.
“I would like to just say to you to just try your best. You need not really kill to win. It is enough that you try, work hard, in the direction of love of the country,” Duterte said.
“Not everybody is given the honor to serve this country. Of the 100 million Filipinos plus, few are given the opportunity to be a part of a team or to be working in government and it’s not given to everybody. That honor is very distinct,” he added.
The Philippine delegation to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is composed of Eric Shawn Cray (men’s 400M hurdles), Mary Joy Tabal (women’s marathon), Marestella Torres (long jump), Charly Suarez (men’s boxing), Rogen Ladon (men’s boxing), Miguel Tabuena (golf), Ian Lariba (women’s table tennis), Kirstie Alora (women’s tae kwon do), Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia (weightlifting).
The Games will start on August 5 and will culminate on August 21.