By Azer Parrocha
1996 Olympic silver medalist Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco (Photo courtesy of DepEd)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Malacañang will look into the possibility of giving an incentive to retired boxer and Olympic silver medalist Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco who failed to receive all the cash and other incentives promised to him after winning a silver medal during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he would relay Velasco’s plight to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Ipagbibigay-alam ko po ito kay Presidente. Kung si Onyok Velasco na nanalo noong silver sa ibang administrasyon ay hindi nakakuha po ng kaniyang pabuya, ipakiusap po natin kay Presidente ito, baka naman mabigyan siya ng pabuya ngayon (I will relay this to the President. If Onyok Velasco won a silver medal during a different administration but did not get the incentive, we will request the President if he can be given an incentive today),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
He recognized that there was “neglect” on the part of the past administration in giving Velasco what he rightfully deserved.
“Kapabayaan po iyan ng gobyerno na hindi nagbigay sa kaniya ng pabuya (That is neglect on the part of the government that did not give him the reward),” he added.
Roque said he would also check if the 2001 law giving cash incentives for athletes and coaches could still be applied to Velasco’s case.
“Napakahirap kasi mangako doon sa mga bigong pangako ng nakalipas na administrasyon. Pero unang-una po, iti-trace po natin kailan iyong effectivity ng law na nagbibigay ng PHP10 million (It’s difficult to promise on the failed promise of the past administration but we will trace the effectivity of the law giving PHP10 million),” he said.
Under Republic Act (RA) 10699 or the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act, Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalists are entitled to PHP10 million, PHP5 million, and PHP2 million, respectively. The law was signed on Nov. 13, 2015 by the late former President Benigno Aquino III.
In an interview over GMA’s 24 Oras, Velasco expressed hope that weightlifter Hidlyn Diaz, the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist, would not suffer the same fate as him.
Diaz was showered with incentives worth millions as well as gifts like a house and lot, condominium, vehicles, and more, following her historic Olympic win.
Velasco admitted that he received a one-time cash incentive amounting to PHP750,000.
The 47-year-old former boxer also received an additional PHP 1.2 million from the Republic Act No. 9064 or the Sports Benefits and Incentives Act that was passed during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
However, Velasco said he did not recall receiving the PHP2.5 million he was pledged by members of the House of Representatives in 1996.
While the house and lot that he was promised was turned over to him, he said he has not received the transfer certificate of title. (PNA)