MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, also the representative of the eighth district of Cavite, has sought an additional P510 million budget for elite sports for 2021.
This, as he believes that the country has a shot at winning a breakthrough gold medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games that will take place next year.
"Tokyo could be that host city where the country could win not one, not two, but probably more Olympic gold medals in 2021," Tolentino said after his interpellation on the Philippine Sports Commission's (PSC) proposed budget for 2021.
"Along this line, the athletes need all the support in their bid to accomplish what has never been achieved before," he added.
The PSC proposed a traditional Department of Budget Management-endorsed P207 million 2021 budget that is intended for the agency's operations and salaries and wages of personnel.
On top of that, an additional P510 million was proposed as additional funding primarily intended for Filipino athletes training and preparation for the Tokyo Olympics itself and for the Games qualifiers.
"The PSC needs the full support of Congress -- the House and the Senate -- because 2021 is the year when the Olympic gold medal beckons," Tolentino stressed. "I am confident that the elusive gold medal will be achieved in Tokyo."
PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez said that of the P510 million additional budget, P150 million will be for the Tokyo Olympics campaign, while P100 million will be for the preparation and participation in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games, where the country will defend its overall championship in Vietnam from November 21 to December 2.
"The SEA Games are on top of the priorities as we defend the overall title which we achieved when we hosted the event in 2021," said Tolentino.
The remaining P250 million will be allocated for the Asian Beach Games, Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games, Asian Youth Games, Asian Youth Para Games, SEA Para Games, Tokyo Paralympics and Asean Youth Games.
Four Filipinos are already qualified for the Olympics -- boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and gymnast Carlos Yulo.
Still waiting to qualify are boxer Nesthy Petecio and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The qualifiers for their respective events were postponed to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mariano "Nonong" Araneta, the chef-de-mission to the Tokyo Games, expects at least 18 Filipinos to qualify to the Olympics, set for July 23 to August 8 next year.