Senate confers highest award, cash grant to 4 Olympic medalists

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2021 05:18 PM | Updated as of Sep 07 2021 02:45 PM

MANILA -- The Senate on Monday awarded the Philippines' four Olympic medalists with the Senate Medal of Excellence, the highest award given by the chamber, for their achievements in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics last month.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial received the accolade in the Senate Plenary where lawmakers praised them for the honor they brought to the Philippines.

"Ms. Diaz did not just win the gold medal, she also won against poverty," Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.

"Ms. Diaz also won over depression and fear while she was training in another country and her name was being dragged in politics," he said, referring to how the champion weightlifter was accused of being a supporter of communist rebels in 2019.

Sotto also lauded Diaz for hurdling past the "lack of financial and moral support" while she was training for the largest sports competition in the world.

"Hidilyn's dedication, sacrifices and self-discipline to achieve her Oympic goal were beyond compare. Her journey was never easy but she rose above it," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said each senator gave P100,000 to pool monetary rewards for the Philippines' four Olympic medalists.

The P2.4 million pooled by the Senate will be awarded as follows:

* P1 million for Hidilyn Diaz
* P500,000 each for Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam
* P400,000 for Eumir Marcial

Diaz is the first Filipino to win a gold medal in the Olympics since the Philippines joined the games 97 years ago.

Petecio and Paalam each won a silver medal, while Marcial ended his campaign with a bronze finish.