MANILA — Several House of Representatives lawmakers on Wednesday proposed measures that would exempt taxes on Hidilyn Diaz's prizes and donations following her historic weightlifting feat that brought the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal.
The “Hidilyn Diaz Act of 2021,” proposed by House Ways and Means panel chair Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, seeks to exempt rewards for national athletes and coaches who compete or win in international sports competitions from any and all taxes, fees, and charges.
Salceda justified the exemption by citing Diaz’s historic win as the country’s first Olympic gold medalist.
"The honor that Filipino athletes have brought to the country this year is immense and historic. So unprecedented is this honor that it appears our laws were unable to anticipate the outpouring of material solidarity from different sectors of society for our winning athletes and coaches."
Earlier in the day, Deputy Speaker 1PACMAN Rep. Michael Romero said they are also looking to pass a measure that would make incentives to Diaz tax exempt for both her and the donors.
Romero believes Diaz’s winnings could reach as much as P80 million.
"[We]... should pass probably a resolution para naman yung winnings ni Hidilyn would be tax exempted both sa donor, and the beneficiary should be exempted of any form of tax," Romero said.
"I reiterate yung call ko for creating a resolution to make the winnings of Hidilyn tax exempted," he added.
Romero added House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco told them to raise funds among themselves to gift Diaz.
"Si Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has initiated a move, he started with P200,000 and passing the hat to every congressmen and congresswomen na mag-ambag... I think the incentive will go as high as P5 to P10 million."
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar urged President Rodrigo Duterte to confer the Philippine Legion of Honor to Diaz.
The Philippine Legion of Honor, considered the highest award the President can bestow without the need for approval by Congress, is conferred upon civilians or members of the military, Filipino or foreign, in recognition of valuable and meritorious service in relation to military affairs of the Philippines.
Diaz is a Philippine Air Force staff sergeant.
Deputy Speaker Biñan City Rep. Marlyn Alonte also filed a resolution seeking to confer a congressional medal of distinction to Diaz.
"Ms. Diaz’s historic triumph comes at a time when Filipinos worldwide needed a morale boost," Alonte said.