Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, on Tuesday, 27 July, filed a Senate resolution commending Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz for winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal at the Summer Games being held in Tokyo, Japan.
The achievement ends a 97-year gold medal drought for the Philippines.
In his co-sponsorship speech, Go said that Diaz has proven time and again that she not only possesses the skill but the willpower and sheer determination as well, exemplifying the true spirit of Filipino competitiveness.
“She ruled the competition with a total score of 224kg to win in such an incredible and emphatic fashion that propelled her to the top. Indeed, this will be marked as one of the greatest sporting moments in Philippine history,” Go said.
Go also extended his full support to other Filipino athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics, adding that his office is always open to provide the assistance they need.
“Nais ko pong ipagbigay alam po na ako po’y nandirito lang po na nasa likod, handang tumulong sa tahimik na paraan. Bukas po ang aking opisina sa kahit anumang tulong, pinansiyal o ano pa mang assistance na aking pwedeng mabigay even in my own personal capacity,” Go added.
“Handa akong pumagitna kung kinakailangang maghanap ng kahit anong suporta galing sa gobyerno at maging sa private sector. Katulad na lamang po kay Hidilyn, hindi po ako nag-atubili na magpaabot ng tulong sa paghahanap ng sponsor para sa kanyang additional na pangangailangan at sa pag-troubleshoot ng problemang kanyang kinaharap noong mga nakaraang taon po habang nag-eensayo para sa Olympics,” he added.
In 2019, Go played a key part in securing a PhP2 million sponsorship arrangement between Phoenix Petroleum Philippines and Diaz, which was used to fund her training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Diaz earlier expressed her gratitude for the support she has received. She told reporters then that the financial support will allow her to train and compete in other events in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.
Go, in his speech, also suggested to the Armed Forces of the Philippines the promotion of Diaz to Staff Sergeant from her current rank as Sergeant.
“Ito po ay dahil sa malaking karangalan na dinala ni Hidilyn sa ating bayan na lubos nating ipinagmamalaki bilang mga Pilipino. Siya po ay miyembro ng Air Force po, sa ating Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Go said.
Go then mentioned that he is one with the nation in celebrating Diaz’s victory, adding that she is an inspiration to all Filipinos to strive hard and face life’s challenges.
“Ako po ay lubos na nakikiisa sa buong sambayanan sa pagkilala at pagpapaabot ng papuri sa ating kababayan na si Hidilyn Diaz na isang patunay at sumasalamin sa napakaraming Pilipino na gaya niya, na nagsusumikap at nagpapakita po ng lakas ng loob sa pagharap sa araw-araw na hamon ng buhay,” Go said.
“Sila ay tunay ngang inspirasyon sa bawat Pilipino na sa kabila ng kahit anong bigat ng kanilang pinapasan sa buhay kapag nagpakita ng determinasyon at pusong manalo ay makakamtan nito sa ating inaasam na tagumpay. Nakakaproud din po, isa rin siyang taga-Mindanao,” he added.
The resolution lauding Diaz stated that “the astounding performance, commitment and unrelenting spirit of Filipino competitiveness and excellence shown by Hidilyn Diaz truly deserves to be commended for the recognition and distinction she has brought to the country.”
Her achievement also makes her the first female Filipino athlete to earn an Olympic medal. She also holds the distinction of being the first Mindanaoan to win an Olympic medal.
Meanwhile, Go, who is a long-time sports fan and basketball player, said that the country should take further steps to support Filipino athletes in various sporting events.
“Patunay ang panalo na Hidilyn na kung magpo-pokus tayo sa iba’t ibang larangan ng sports, malaki ang pagkakataon nating manalo pa ng mga gintong medalya sa susunod pang mga Olympics,” Go said.
Go has long been an advocate of long-term sports development. Prior to winning as a senator, he served as the head of delegation of the Philippine national basketball team to the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Upon assuming office in the Senate, one of the first bills that he filed is the proposed National Academy of Sports, which seeks to establish a school for athletes in New Clark City. The measure was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 9, 2020.
Following a request from the PSC through Go, the Office of the President has also approved additional allowance worth 100,000 pesos on top of what has already been provided to athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go has also ensured that adequate funding is included in the PSC’s budget this year to support athletes’ preparations for the Olympics and other international events. Specifically, he pushed for an additional 100 million pesos to be included in the 2021 budget which was later on increased further to 250 million pesos under the PSC for Olympic preparations. As for the Paralympics, Go earlier supported the allocation of an additional PhP7.945 million budget for their preparations.
Go has also successfully appealed to the government to include Filipino athletes and other delegates who will compete or participate in the ongoing Olympics in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination.
He has also pushed for legislation to safeguard athletes’ welfare as part of the country’s sports development programs. Previously, he expressed his support for the establishment of the Philippine Sports Training Center in Bataan. Go highlighted that together with the National Academy of Sports, both institutions are gifts from the government to national athletes.
The PSC on the other hand has consistently provided support and assistance to national athletes such as Hidilyn Diaz including salaries, training allowances, international expenses and competition needs as well as hiring of a special training team composed of international coach, psychologist, medical team, nutritionist and conditioning coach, among others.
The Office of the President also previously provided additional financial incentives for medalists in previous international competitions since 2016 on top of what is provided by law.